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Foam Rollers - why?

What is a foam roller?

A foam roller is a cylindrical shaped dense foam used to self-massage. It requires you to use your own body weight to control the depth and pressure on your specific sore areas. There are various types, some have a smooth surface and others have a textured ridged surface for a deeper massage.

What does it do?

As a popular emerging self-manual therapy, foam rollers have been touted to improve flexibility, performance and muscle recovery. But what does the evidence say?

Several studies have shown that foam rolling does make small, short-lived improvements in flexibility when used as a warm-up exercise. Foam rolling may also improve long term flexibility when performed on a regular basis.

In terms of muscle performance, foam rolling has no negative outcomes on athletic performance and pre-rolling before exercise has shown to have a small improvement in sprint performance. Post-rolling after exercise can also reduce the perception of muscle pain. Overall, it was determined that the effects of foam rolling on performance and recovery are partly minor but can be relevant in some cases (e.g., to increase sprint performance and flexibility or to reduce muscle pain sensation).

Another reported benefit of foam rolling is it speeding up post-recovery after exercise by reducing muscle soreness or DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). A systematic review showed that daily bouts of foam rolling for up to 72 hours following exercise aid in recovery compared to resting. Foam rolling for 90 seconds or more is recommended for reducing muscle soreness.

How to foam roll?

Foam roll for 3-5 sets of 20-30 second repetitions or 90 seconds repetitions for muscle recovery and complete 3-5 times. Perform regularly if your desire is to achieve and retain the long-term effect of flexibility. When foam rolling, never roll over a joint (e.g., knee, elbow, ankle). Start with a light pressure initially as your muscles may be sore, as you get used to the feeling, slowly build up pressure by increasing the amount of body weight you are putting into the roller.

Foam rolling exercises:

Posture Stretch

Posture Stretch
Image: Physitrack

Lie on a foam roller with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Keeping the roller aligned with your spine, gently lower your arms down to the floor.

Hip flexors

Hip Flexor Stretch
Image: Physitrack

Kneel down with a foam roller in front of you. Move down into a plank like position placing the foam roller under the top of your thighs. Start rolling up and down to find the most painful location.


Hamstring stretch
Image: Physitrack

Place the foam roller between your knee and hip. Roll the entire portion of the hamstring, making sure you do the inside and outside of the thigh too. If needed, you can cross your other leg over the leg being rolled to increase the pressure.


Quads stretch
Image: Physitrack

Place your foam roller on the floor. Have the outside of one hip over the foam roller and your other leg in front for support. Roll the entire outside of your leg from your hip bone to your knee in an up and down motion. Move more onto your front to get different areas of your quad muscle.


Image: Physitrack

Place the foam roller underneath your bottom. Roll from the top of the hips to your sitting bone. Use your arm and foot on the ground to control the pressure on the foam roller as you roll up and down.

When not to foam roll

If you have any conditions such as: osteoporosis, cardiac disease, cancer, peripheral neuropathy or any fractures, open wounds or muscle tears. Please consult a health professional before using a foam roller.

Where to purchase a foam roller

Good Country Physiotherapy sell a variety of foam rollers at each of our clinics. Please contact your nearest clinic for more information.

Bordertown | 8752 2330

Naracoorte/Kingston/Millicent | 87621515

Keith | 8755 1530


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