Updated: Apr 26
Do you know how to use a foam roller and why it is good for you? Foam roller exercises can be highly effective to ease back pain and tension in your legs.
Do you know how to use a foam roller? And why is this good to do for you?
In this short article, we’ll try to explain in simple words how 10 minutes of foam roller use can revolutionise your warm-up/cool-down routine.. especially if you are not a stretching “fan”.
WHAT ARE FOAM ROLLER EXERCISES?
Foam rolling is a type of self-massage which uses a cylindrical-shaped tool to roll out tight spots and relieve tension in the soft tissues area (muscles and tendons). It is often referred to as ‘self-myofascial release’ (SMFR for short) and it is very easy to use. Some people use it as a self back cracking technique as foam roller exercises are highly effective for back pain and can ease a lot of tension in your middle back.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS Of FOAM ROLLER EXERCISES?
Even tough SMFR is not as effective as when myofascial therapy is performed by a trained therapist, it still can offer an alternative to tackle aches and pain on a daily basis, without waiting for a massage!
The 5 top benefits of using a foam roller are:
Promote soft-tissue healing, reducing inflammation that occurs during muscle repairing while speeding up this process
Relax and reduce delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS), which is the soreness you can get after a tough workout as it increases blood flow to the muscles
Prevent injury by lengthening the muscles and increasing elasticity and mobility of muscle tissue, joints, and fascia
Save your money..as you won't need as many physio treatments as you would
WHAT FOAM ROLLER SHALL I USE?
Foam rollers are cylindrical-shaped, which come in different sizes and degrees of firmness and sometimes have bumps and unusual shapes on them; they have now become a staple piece of exercise equipment that is found in most modern gym environments.
If you have never used a foam roller and don't know how to use it, I would suggest starting with a SMOOTH foam roller because the pressure is not as intense as with a textured roller. Besides, smooth foam rollers are usually less expensive than TEXTURED foam rollers.
As you master your foam rolling techniques, move to a textured one, with ridges and knobs which will enable you to apply different intensities of pressure and to do a more targeted massage.
If you find foam rolling effective and want to take it to the next level, I really recommend you to get a VIBRATING FOAM ROLLER, such as the PulseRoll. I discovered this piece of equipment a couple of years ago from a client of mine who races professionally and was swearing by it. This foam roller uses a unique combination of pressure and vibration which will help loosen your muscles, increase blood flow and flush away lactic acid in a much more effective way. Though it is more expensive than a normal foam roller, it is worth the investment, especially if you are a fitness lover, as it is the easiest to use and really feels like self-massaging yourself.
Check the video below to see how to use a vibrating foam roller (PulseRoll)
HOW TO USE A FOAM ROLLER FOR BACK PAIN
1. To start choose a softer foam roller as your body will need to adjust to it and sometimes too hard or “bumpy” foam rollers may feel too uncomfortable to start.
2. Rest your middle back on the foam roller and start to roll slowly, pausing for several seconds when you find areas that are tight or slightly painful. When you start to feel the muscle releasing you can start to roll again.
For a visual hint, watch the videos below:
HOW TO CRACK YOUR LOWER BACK WITH A FOAM ROLLER
HOW TO FOAM ROLL THE UPPER BACK
4. If the area is too painful to apply direct pressure, work around it or change your body's angle to find a more comfortable position. If the day after you feel sore, rest that area and wait a couple of days before to foam rolling it again.
FEW OTHER TIPS TO MASTER YOUR FOAM ROLLER EXERCISES ROUTINE
Use a Foam roller in multiple directions instead of just rolling up and down
Try to target different muscles and don’t focus only on your tightest area, but always avoid areas such as your lower back and neck.
Roll slowly and gently and as mentioned above, pause when you find a tight spot and breath through it.
We hope you have now a better idea of how to use a foam roller for back pain and to crack your back in a safe way!