Ever get the feeling of having a ton of bricks on your shoulders? Or tightness along the side of your leg, glutes or mid back? Your answer may just be a foam roller. If you don’t own a foam roller, do your body a big favor and go online, to the store or put it on your baby registry, but please buy one.
Myofascial release techniques and deep tissue massage have been used by physical therapists, athletes and the general public to improve tissue mobility and decrease pressure points. Tightness in your muscles and undisturbed fascia can become thick and viscous leading to significant tightness in muscle tissue, which can restrict normal movement. Simply rotating your head can be painful if you have adhesions in the upper back and shoulders.
Wouldn’t it be lovely to have a therapist on call to come over after countless hours of lifting, nursing or burping your baby? Or even running after your toddler? Most of us would say yes, but in this economy, every penny needs to be accounted for. The good news is that using a foam roller for self-myofascial release can be highly effective.
In a recent study, Sullivan et al who recently published an article in the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy found that using a roller-massage increased range of motion in the hamstring without affecting muscle strength.(1) Keep in mind; this study was performed on 7 male and 10 female volunteers, so it was a relatively small cohort. However, in my 6.5 years as a treating clinician and working with a variety of patients I can assure you that the use of the foam roller was therapeutically beneficial.
I’ve attached some photos that demonstrate some areas you can foam roll. Remember, the foam roller is your best friend. If you’ve never used it before you may want to purchase a soft one (white) or even a rolling stick and work your way to the blue or black foam roller. The more dense the foam roller the more discomfort you will feel if you have adhesions.
1. Sullivan KM1, Silvey DB, Button DC, Behm DG. Roller-massager application to the hamstrings increases sit-and-reach range of motion within five to ten seconds without performance impairments. Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2013 Jun;8(3):228-36.