The Benefits of Foam Rolling

Myofascial treatments are widely used by Chartered Physiotherapists to help athletes relieve pain and promote healing after a hard training session. Did you know that you can get a similar effect from the regular use of a simple €20 tool? - The Foam Roller.

A foam roller is a firm foam cylinder that is roughly six inches in diameter. By applying firm pressure on soft tissue (muscle and fascia) regular foam rolling can increase circulation, bringing fresh oxygenated blood and nutrients and removing the buildup of waste products, reducing tightness and inflexibility.

How do I use it and how often?

  • Simply roll back and forth across the target area for approximately 1 minute,
  • Spend extra time on anywhere you find a trigger point (more commonly known as knots)
  • Avoid rolling directly over a joint or bony region.
  • Always stretch the area following foam rolling
  • Remember the other side!!
  • For injury prevention: use 2-3 times weekly. For ladies >40 years of age an extra session is beneficial.
  • Foam rollers can be used as part of your warm up or cool down or as a separate session.
  • Initially foam rolling can be painful but this will ease as the muscle tightness reduces. If the pain persists or you have an injury consult your local Chartered Physiotherapist for advice.

The following 5 foam rolling exercises target all the common tight spots faced by Runners.

1. ITB Release

Execution: Position foam roll beneath hip, as shown. Roll along the foam towards your knee. Whenever you find a sore spot, pause for as long as you can to stretch this area out.

Note: This exercise is normally quite uncomfortable.

2. Calf Release

Execution: Roll your calf up and down on the roll. Stop on tight portions of the calf muscle to allow them to release.

3. Gluteus Release

Execution: Roll your buttock muscles out on the foam roll. Stop on tight portions of the muscle to allow them to release. If you feel a tender point, hold and allow the muscle to relax.

4. Quadriceps Release

Execution: Roll up and down on the foam roller to release the muscles on the front of the thigh. If you feel a tender point, hold and allow the muscle to relax.

5. Hip Adductor Release

Execution: Position the roller between the legs, resting on the inside of one groin and thigh area.