Foam rollers are an effective method of reducing tension and increasing muscle length for either a pre-workout warm-up or post-exercise active recovery. Technically known as self-myofascial release (SMR), the use of foam rollers for the purpose of reducing muscle tension has become a widely accepted fitness practice.
There are two prevailing theories regarding why foam rolling works:
While your clients may be less interested in how it works, they definitely want to know why they should be foam rolling on a regular basis. Here are six specific benefits of using foam rollers that you can share with your clients or group fitness participants. The more helpful information you can provide, the more others will look to you as a credible and reliable source of fitness information, which only helps to further your success as a health and fitness professional.
In general, foam rollers provide the greatest response when placing a body-part directly on top of the roller and moving rhythmically to apply pressure to the underlying tissues. For suggested foam roller exercises that can be used as a warm-up or cool-down, follow this link.
As with any mode of exercise it’s important to understand both the advantages and disadvantages and identify the best practices for how it can be used with training clients or class participants. It is up to you to identify the best time to apply foam rolling for a client’s specific needs; for a more detailed explanation of how foam rollers create myofascial release, check out this article published in CERTIFIED.
|Types of Foam Rollers and their Benefits
As foam rolling has grown in popularity, a greater variety of rollers have been created, each promoting specific types of benefits.
|Soft-core foam roller||A soft foam roller that is easier to compress and places less force directly on the muscle.||The pliable surface allows a greater contact with muscle tissue.
May be more comfortable when first introducing clients to foam rolling.
|Over time, repeated use can cause foam to change shape and become compressed, which reduces its effectiveness.
May not apply enough force for extremely active and fit individuals.
|Hard-core foam roller||A foam roller with an outer surface of foam and an inner core made from hard plastic.||Will maintain shape over repeated uses.
Can apply a significant amount of pressure to the contact area of the muscle.
|May apply too much pressure and be uncomfortable for certain individuals.|
|High-density foam roller||These rollers are made from specific types of dense foam that is more resistant to compression.||The density of the foam roller allows greater pressure to be placed on areas of adhesion and tightness.
The thicker foam allows the roller to maintain its shape for a longer period of time.
A good option for individuals who may not experience benefits from a soft roller, but are not yet ready for a roller with a hard inner surface.
|May be too dense and cause discomfort for certain individuals.|
|Textured foam rollers
(surface has patterns or grooves)
|The external surface of the foam roller has a specific pattern or grooves that places pressure on different parts of the tissue.||The theory is that the patterns or texture in the surface of the roller place different amounts of pressure on the muscle, thus promoting circulation.||Depending on the type of roller, the patterning could cause increased pressure in certain areas, leading to localized feelings of discomfort or an excessive amount of pressure in specific areas.|
|Balls||The circular shape of a ball allows pressure to be focused on specific areas. Like foam rollers, balls come in a variety of sizes and densities. Many companies make specific SMR balls, but almost any type of ball (e.g., golf, tennis, lacrosse or inflatable) can be used.||The density and size of the ball allows pressure to be placed directly on specific areas of the muscle.||The surface of the ball may be difficult to adjust to a targeted area of adhesion.
Certain balls may be too dense and cause discomfort or pain.
|Rolling sticks||These are hand-held tools that can be used to apply pressure and create friction directly on specific adhesions or areas of tightness.||Allows force to be applied directly to an adhesion or area of discomfort.||It can be hard to use on certain parts of the body, such as the lumbar or thoracic spine.|
|Vibrating foam roller||This roller features an internal motor that vibrates at a specific frequency of oscillation||Along with the pressure from the roller, vibrations can create a reflexive action in the muscle spindles that causes them to lengthen to reduce tension in the tissue.||The vibrations may be uncomfortable or cause an unintended response such as a headache.|
For more information, please click here: https://www.acefitness.org/education-and-resources/professional/expert-articles/6575/6-benefits-of-using-foam-rollers