What is a Foam Roller?
A foam roller is basically what it sounds like – a long roll made of stiff foam. The device is used to perform exercises, stretches, and self-massage. In the Chiropractic world, the use of a foam roller can be referred to as ‘self-myofascial release’.
A Brief History of Foam Rolling
Before foam rolling became popular with everyday people, self-myofascial release was a practice mainly used by professional athletes. It wasn’t a well-known nor popular form of treatment or exercise in its early stages, and was considered more of a specialty treatment that required a lot of training in order to be able to do it correctly. Typically, the technique would be recommended by a specialist such as a sports therapist, or Chiropractor, and required the guidance of the prescribing therapist in order to be beneficial.
These days, with a wealth of information and how-to articles widely available, it has become a popular practice for anyone who wishes to add to their exercise and stretching routine, and for those who suffer from certain types of pain or conditions of the back, neck or legs. At Broadway AT Yew, our Chiropractors and registered massage therapists, rely on this tool for patients home care. It is especially great used daily after work for posture!
Why Foam Rolling is Beneficial
As we know in the Chiropractic world, neck and back pain are very often caused by ‘trigger points’ – muscle knots/spasms that can be anywhere in the body. Trigger points can lead to what we call ‘referred pain’. For example, a patient may have a trigger point in their lower back that causes pain in their neck. The reason this occurs, is that the entire musculoskeletal system is connected. In other words, if even one small area of the body is out of place, the entire body could potentially be affected.
At Broadway AT Yew Chiropractic & Massage, foam rolling is often a part of the home treatment plan we’ll prescribe to help reduce your pain. Foam rolling is an excellent option for patients who wish to self-treat at home in between visits to our clinic. We normally don’t recommend rolling out the deep muscles of your sub-occipital (below the skull) area.
How is Foam Rolling Performed?
As noted, your Broadway AT Yew Chiropractic & Massage therapist will prescribe a series of exercises for you that will address your pain issues. The goal of these exercises is to help release the trigger points that lead to pain. In combination with other Chiropractic treatments, massage and physical therapy, performing these exercises in the comfort of your own home will enhance the benefits of your other treatments.
Is Foam Rolling Painful?
Foam rolling should not be any more painful than any other type of stretching or massage. The purpose is to loosen up tense muscles so that they begin to function properly again. Initially, you may experience slight discomfort as your body gets used to the technique, and your muscles begin to loosen. This should end the more you practice.
Is Foam Rolling Expensive?
One of the best things about foam rolling is that you can do it at home! After the initial cost of the foam roller(s) you choose (which are very affordable and available from our Vancouver chiropractic clinic), you’ll be able to use them for years to come in the comfort of your own home. You’ll save the cost of having to go to a gym or take a special class to practice the technique whenever you want.
Depending on what type of pain you are experiencing, some or all of the following techniques may be prescribed:
Thoracic Spine Rolling
The purpose of this exercise is to help loosen and stretch the muscles of your upper and lower back.
1.Lie on the foam roller with the roller positioned just under your shoulder blades.
2.Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor.
3.With your hands behind your head, raise your rear from the floor.
4.Roll slowly back and forth so that the roller moves back and forth between your shoulder blades and lower back.
5.Do ten reps.
The purpose of this exercise is to help loosen and stretch the muscles of your lower back and legs.
1.Lie face down with the roller underneath your thighs.
2.Rest on your arms with your hands and forearms down flat on the floor.
3.Raise your feet in the air so that your legs are in parallel position.
4.Roll your body back forth over the roller so that it moves between your hips and knees.
5.Do ten reps.
The purpose of this exercise is to help loosen and stretch the muscles of your lower back, buttocks and thighs.
1.While sitting on the floor with your legs straight, extend your arms to lift your rear from the floor.
2.Place the roller under your rear.
3.Lean to one side and begin rolling back and forth over the roller so that one side of your butt gets the most impact.
4.Repeat while leaning the opposite way you did in the previous step.
5.Do ten reps on each side.
Latissimus Dorsi Rolling
The purpose of this exercise is to help loosen and stretch the muscles of your torso and lower back.
1.Lie on the floor on one side of your body with the same arm extended on the floor.
2.Place the roller under your armpit.
3.Put your opposite hand on the floor for support.
4.Roll back and forth so the roller moves from your armpit to your waist.
5.Do ten reps.
The purpose of this exercise is to help loosen and stretch the muscles of your legs.
1.Kneel on the floor with the roller under your calves.
2.Put your hands flat on the floor.
3.Raise your rear in the air so that all of the pressure is on your calves.
4.Roll back and forth so the roller moves from your knees to your ankles.
5.Do ten reps.
Foam rolling, or self-myofascial release is an exercise technique that offers many benefits. At Broadway AT Yew Chiropractic & Massage, we incorporate the technique into many of our patient’s home treatment to enhance the benefits of chiropractic and massage therapy.