Foam rolling under its fancy name is called myo-fascial release, which means:
“The manipulation and manual therapy of connective muscle tissue” … pretty much!
It’s like a do it yourself massage for certain areas of your body. Foam rolling works by creating constant pressure along a muscle (quad for example), and using the pressure of your own body’s gravity to knead into the muscle.
It can be used for larger or smaller muscles, and generally has to be manipulated in a certain way that as long as the massage pressure is going towards the heart/chest area… then you can’t go far wrong. As mentioned before, the only reason it has to be TOWARDS the heart is due to the way your veins and arteries work.
What’s the difference between foam rolling and sports massage?
It depends on if you’re using foam rolling for stretching and working on an area after a workout, or if you’ve been told by a physio to use them, or for a number of other reasons.
Sports massage is a much more thorough way to manipulate the body’s tissue with different pressure and techniques. The foam roller is a cylindrical shape and continues to be so, regardless of how much pressure is put to it… therefore it won’t be able to do some of the kneading work of sports massage.
Foam rolling is fantastic for portability, ease of use and is a great general day to day tool to use in between workouts, and this is apparent when they appear in every physical trainer and physical therapist’s toolkit.
A Few Pointers
When using the foam roller on injured areas, try to avoid hitting these directly as muscle tissue can react negatively and damage it further, so instead massage the surrounding muscles and areas that attach to it.
Too long or too short – either rolling too fast or not spending long enough on a certain area is going to negatively impact the muscle. Try to stick to 1-2 seconds per roll before you reset the movement, and spend no more than about 20-30 seconds on any one area at a time.
If you’re looking for a home-use technical piece of equipment that will do the job, foam rollers are definitely the best thing out there in my opinion. They can be bought for around £10 minimum, and if you’re just starting out with loosening your muscles, it’s a good option to go for the cheaper one.
However, if you’re looking for more personalised work on certain areas… it is worth talking to a sports massage therapist. They’ll (I’ll) be able to tell you much more about what could be causing the pain, if it’s coming from that area or somewhere else, and also what to do about strengthening it back up to normal again.
This can be done easily by clicking the link above, or go here: http://www.gfitpt.com/sports-massage and answering a couple of questions about sports massage and I’ll give you an honest opinion on whether it’ll be the right thing for you on a certain area.