How to use a Foam Roller

images  Foam rolling has become a very popular modality for self-myofacial release in the fitness world.  How does this practice translate into use for everyday people with soreness and pain?  The answer to this question is that it works very well if you take in mind a few precautions and techniques.

As an Acupuncturist who practices sports medicine I give my clients tools to help them on their path to recovery when they are not visiting me in my office.  One of these tools for me is the foam roller.  Today I am going to share with you the tips I give my clients when they foam roll at home.

The first thing to remember is that less is more.  Often times a first-time user of foam rolling will try to undo years of tightness in one session.  This creates far too much strain on the muscles and fascia and can create an inflammatory response.  Start light and apply pressure to areas of soreness for a short amount of time, 30 seconds at the most.  Regarding light pressure make sure that you are  bracing the body against the floor so that a limited amount of your body weight is pressing into the roller.  As you become more practiced at using a foam roller you can gradually increase that pressure.

Second, remember a feeling of mild to moderate discomfort is normal, however do not roll over joints or bones.  Essentially what the foam roller accomplishes is the breaking down of muscle adhesions and knots.  The pressure from the roller helps to separate these areas of bound muscle and fascia so that the gliding surfaces of your muscles function properly and move freely.  This is not a comfortable process, but it should not be painful either.  If it is painful, it is important to reduce pressure or move the roller slightly away from that particular area and release around it first.  Avoid joints and bones because the roller applies too much pressure for these structures.  Joints are not intended to have this type of pressure applied to them and although bones are much more solid the direction of force the roller applies to them can create unnatural and unhealthy pressures.  One other important point on this topic is that you should not foam roll your low back.  It creates too much pressure in this region and will actually increase tightness.  For the low back use a lacrosse ball or tennis ball so that the back has less force being applied to it.

Lastly, when in doubt ask for help.  As with any type of physical training or body work, if you are unsure of what you are doing ask a professional for some guidance.  It takes only a few minutes out of your day to clarify any uncertainties but it can take days or weeks to heal an injury caused by improperly executing a technique.




bradleymascuchBradley Mascuch 

Bradley is a NASM certified personal trainer, a NCCAOM licensed acupuncturist/Herbalist, and Qi Gong practitioner. He specializes in corrective exercise, functional exercise, strength training, Qi Gong training, and Chinese medicine.


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