Foam rolling is a technique of self-myofascial release (SMR) or “self-massage” where a tool is used to apply pressure to the muscles. This tool is called a “foam roller” and there are many different types on the market.
Foam rolling has become a popular technique used throughout the athletic population to increase performance, improve training efficiency and speed up recovery. To use a foam roller involves the use of your body weight on a foam device to apply pressure to sore muscles in a rolling motion, providing a self-induced massage. It has become a popular technique due to its affordability, ease of use, time efficiency and its close relationship to getting a massage which is favourably viewed to enhance performance and recovery.
So, how does it work? And does it actually help with recovery? Let’s look at the research. It has been found that foam rolling immediately post exercise for 20minutes and every 24 hours after this for 3 days (60 minutes total) can significantly reduce muscle tenderness and delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Whilst its effects on improving performance in contention, muscle soreness can significantly impede your performance, so if you can reduce muscle pain, you will no doubt perform better.
It is suspected that foam rolling decreases DOMS by decreasing edema, enhancing blood lactate removal and tissue healing. This is all facilitated through increased blood flow to the region, reducing inflammatory markers from collecting in the area, decreasing inflammation and thus pain. If your goal is to reduce muscle soreness after a hard gym session, foam rolling is a great, affordable option that you can do in the comfort of your own home or take it with you easily to the gym.
But how do you decide what roller is best for you? At BRAYVA we have 2 types of rollers. The Performance Roller is a high-density foam roller that provides a deep, firm massage. The Beginner Roller is designed for those who have never foam rolled before, prefer a light to medium massage or usually avoid foam rolling at all costs because it is too painful. Our philosophy is: the best roller for you is the roller you are going to use. Whilst we actually recommend both rollers are great to have, as there are certain parts of the body that a firm pressure is good for (i.e. upper back) and others are a lot more sensitive (i.e. side of your leg, over your ribs) so if you are keen to up your recovery game grab both and try them out.
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- Wiewelhove, T., Döweling, A., Schneider, C., Hottenrott, L., Meyer, T., Kellmann, M., ... & Ferrauti, A. (2019). A meta-analysis of the effects of foam rolling on performance and recovery. Frontiers in physiology, 376.
- Pearcey, G. E., Bradbury-Squires, D. J., Kawamoto, J. E., Drinkwater, E. J., Behm, D. G., & Button, D. C. (2015). Foam rolling for delayed-onset muscle soreness and recovery of dynamic performance measures. Journal of athletic training, 50(1),5-13.
- Hendricks, S., den Hollander, S., Lombard, W., & Parker, R. (2020). Effects of foam rolling on performance and recovery: A systematic review of the literature to guide practitioners on the use of foam rolling. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 24(2), 151-174.