Foam Rolling for Pain Management & Relief

By now, most everyone has seen someone rolling around on them… You may see someone cringe as they are flopping back and forth over that cylinder thingy… Maybe you see that particular person holding their breath until their face turns “tomato” red… Just like anything else, there is a right and a wrong way to do something! That particular “thing” we are talking about is Foam Rolling. However, cringing, holding your breath and excessively flopping over a foam roller is not the correct way to foam roll! This blog post will bring some insight into the reasoning, methods and benefits that foam rolling can bring to you.

Benefits of Foam Rolling

Foam rolling is a generalized form of ‘self-myofascial release’ where we try to influence tissues to move more freely, reduce tissue discomfort, increase fluid circulation and promote tissue healing. The benefits of foam rolling may allow us to live our daily life with reduced pain symptoms. Foam rolling may also increase athletic performance. By utilizing a foam roller to alleviate pain symptoms, we may experience overall increased performance at home, work and in sports!

How to Use a Foam Roller

Contrary to what you may commonly see on TV or at the gym, aimlessly rolling back and forth on a foam roller really isn’t doing much of anything. In fact, “going crazy” on a foam roller may actually do more damage than good. When describing the correct way to foam roll, we like to encourage 3 tips:

1) Continue to breathe - this allows us to fully relax the tissue we are trying to target. It also allows us to better oxygenate the tissue which can aid in tissue relaxation and healing.

2) Do not make the “pain face” - if your face is cringing when foam rolling, the intensity of your foam rolling is too high! We are aiming to relax the target musculature, which is about impossible when we are cringing from pain.

3) Find a “hot spot” and hang out - when foam rolling, we want to do a few broad sweeps (rolls) over the roller to find areas that are more tender than others. These tender areas are going to be the target muscles/areas. Once you find a tender area, roll so that the roller is directly on that area, and then try to relax and breathe. Ideally, we would stay in this one area for 90-120 seconds and our pain and tenderness will diminish.

You can see some basic foam roller exercises here.

Results of Foam Rolling

Many of the studies regarding foam rolling are subjective, meaning that the persons who foam rolled overall “felt better” upon completion of a foam rolling session. There is evidence that muscular soreness can be reduced and joint range of motion and muscular performance increased with small, frequent bouts of foam rolling pre- and post-activity.

If you are interested in foam rolling and how it can further benefit you, please consult with Dr. Josh Watkins, Dr. Aaron Pfaff, or Dr. Amber Trice at Watkins Family Chiropractic in Savage! We provide convenient, affordable chiropractor care to residents of Prior Lake, Savage, Burnsville, and beyond.

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