Pippa Teague, Strength Coach
Infinite Potential Physical Therapy
So.. what the heck IS foam rolling exactly? Well, it is rolling parts of your body (muscles) on a foam roller giving yourself your own “massage” or some might say “self myofacial release”.
It is frequently used to promote recovery, flexibility and athletic performance. However, as everyone began to become obsessed with it over the past few years, we have learned more about what it DOES NOT do verses what is DOES do. It has NOT been proven to provide long term effects on recovery, perform, OR flexibility. Short term effects on flexibility? Sure. Long term (what we really want)..? Not so much.
The widely accepted theory is that foam rolling / lacrosse balling / super nova-ing is a way to “release” fascia (soft tissue surrounding all organs, muscles, bones and nerve fibers), adhesions, muscular restrictions, etc. This restriction, adhesion or tightness of this fascia causes decreased joint range of motion and blood flow.
Here is the real deal.. to actually CHANGE the tissue that is underneath your skin (aka fascia) you need a SIGNIFICANTLY higher force than a human exerting it on themselves would need to be used! So let’s get one thing straight.. you ARE NOT releasing anything..
So why are we getting those short-term improvements in flexibility, pain relief, etc..?
The theory is that foam rolling CAN stimulating the nervous system to relax which in addition will improve pain tolerance. Similar to other things like stretching, deep breathing and meditation..
Our Advice? USE IT IF YOU LIKE IT AND UNDERSTAND THAT IT PROVIDES SHORT TERM EFFECTS ONLY.
Apply during your warm up (no more than 2-3 mins)
5-10 passes over each muscle group
We know that more does not mean improved outcomes…
So.. in short. Foam rolling or self mobilization can give you short term gains in flexibility, decrease muscle soreness and pain. KEY WORD IS SHORT TERM! What can it do long term? …..? Unsure.
If you foam roll and you feel like it helps you in your workouts and promotes recovery, then keep it up! If you foam roll and are in agony and doesn’t seem to help you then giving it a miss might not be a bad idea!
Learn how your body reacts and do what feels good!