What Is A Muscle Roller?
This is for all those wondering, “what is a muscle roller”? Stick along as we chat about these undervalued pieces of foam.
The purpose and use of muscle rolling is fairly straight-forward. In a way, these simple looking items, allow for any individual to do there own sort of deep-tissue massage. Furthermore, a significant benefit being that you don’t have to leave your home, pay someone, or need any expensive equipment.
We stated “foam” previously, but the fact is there is quite a variety in rollers these days. For example, muscle rollers come in varying lengths, hand-held version, and varying hardness’s.
Additionally, you can purchase rollers with differing surface textures, shapes, some even to target specific body areas.
With that said, what do these simple devices actually do?
According to Healthline, foam rolling is a “self-myofascial release (SMR) technique”. In laments terms, a way of massaging your muscles.
Further aiding to relieve muscle tension, improve blood flow, relieve tightness (called, trigger points or knots), soreness and inflammation, from everyday wear and tear.
Other touted benefits of muscle rolling include (Teeter.com):
- Helping to support posture.
- Helping with flexibility and ROM (range of motion).
- Recovery times post workouts.
By using a foam roller, you can focus on these trigger points/knots, using your own body weight. By massaging these trigger points, in a sense, may helps to relieve tension, or their hold.
Consequently, if you’ve tried this technique it’s not always the most comfortable, however it should still not cause too much pain.
With continual use, an individual can help keep collagen from binding between layers of muscle tissues. Hence, the comfort level, may subside more easily or quicker overtime with consistent use.
MyFitnessPal, posted an interesting article discussing foam rolling. In the article it states to not think about it as “smoothing out dough”, but as a way of triggering the brain to send a message to the muscle that “it’s okay to relax”.
Interesting Finding About Muscle Rolling:
One study found that foam rolling effectively reduced delayed onset muscle soreness. Specifically, the study found it to “substantially improve quadriceps muscle tenderness in the days after fatigue”.
In regards to ROM, muscle rolling has also showed some promising results. For example, one study looking at foam rolling and static stretching, found both to have acute increases in flexibility.
However, it’s difficult to predict or prove long term benefits on ROM, from this study.
SMR or Self-Myofascial Release has also shown potential positives when it comes to performance testing. In a particular study, an acute bout of SMR & DYN (dynamic warm-up) was compared to a dynamic warm-up. Data indicated SMR to be effective in improving power, agility, strength and speed when compared to just DYN.
According to an article posted on HuffPost, foam rollers help increase blood flow to your muscles and can help create better mobility.
Better mobility is usually an indication that a muscle is going to perform better with more vigorous and strenuous exercise, potentially improve performance.
When Do I Use Muscle Rollers?
Muscle rollers themselves are utilized both pre and post workout sessions. However, individuals can be seen using them as other various times during the day. More portable rollers make this possible for such athletes or individuals.
Potential Benefits Of Using A Muscle Roller:
It’s clear, based on much of the research, the results of consistent muscle rolling will fluctuate. Hence, not everyone may see improvements so vast.
An article from The International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy (2015), which underwent an appraisal of current evidence came to several conclusions.
- Firstly, SMR using foam rollers may have short term effects of increasing joint range of motion without decreasing muscle performance.
- Secondly, it may reduce perceived pain after short bouts of intense exercise.
- Finally, using foam rollers for SMR prior to exercise has no negative effects on muscle performance.
Research seems to also universally indicate the need for “high quality” studies. This will help to validate these findings on SMR.
Why muscle rolling is effective:
Can it help with physical relaxation, and physical stress?
McCall (2017), from ACE Fitness discusses this concept of relaxation as it pertains to muscle rollers. The article addresses the benefit it can play psychologically on individuals post-workout.
A study published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science (2014) examined the use of foam muscle rollers on the reduction of stress. Specifically, measuring serum concentration of cortisol.
The study found little evidence suggesting a reduction of stress levels more then resting in general, post workout.
Simple Tips When Using Muscle Rollers?
- Target the area around where you are feeling soreness and gradually move towards the effected area. Ease your way into the problematic spot.
- There is a myth that rolling over the sore area with faster strokes is better. This is not the case. Short slow motions over the muscles gives your mind some time to relax as well. Furthermore, allowing your mind to concentrate on relaxing the muscle.
- Many people don’t think about posture when using a muscle or foam roller. On the contrary, posture is essential when using these devices.
- If you are new to the process of rolling get educated or seek guidance. This can be done via a personal trainer for positioning tips.
Foam muscle rollers can be another tool to add to your growing arsenal for a more well conditioned body and mind.
Thanks for stopping by. Be sure to share your thoughts on muscle rolling in the blog comments section of this post.