Our knees are involved in nearly all physical activities we complete, so it’s no wonder they are often one of the first signs of injury our bodies display. Constant movement in and around the knee joint can lead to chronic knee pain. But if you don’t want to give up exercising and keeping mobilised is recommended, finding an exercise which helps but doesn’t hurt can be tough to find.
With many gyms now offering gym goers the opportunity to use foam rolling after their exercise routines have been completed and with many internet and high street retailers stocking foam rollers, many are often left wondering how to incorporate them into their recovery plan.
Foam rolling can greatly benefit you post exercise, but it’s important to understand how to use this recovery technique, where to apply pressure and the benefits it can offer you.
What is Foam Rolling?
Foam rolling is a Self-Myofascial Release (SMR) massage technique which is used to aid and release tightness in muscles and the fascial, the area which surrounds individual and groups of muscles.
Pressure is applied to specific body parts by rolling a large foam tube on areas of pain to assist with recovery. The size of the foam roller varies according to the area where pressure is being applied and pressure required. Those who are new to foam rolling may choose to start with a smaller roller, before increasing in size once they are used to the foam rolling motion.
Tension in muscles is often caused by repetitive movements in joints and muscles such as running or resistance sports which then causes pain to occur. Foam rolling helps muscles to return to their ‘normal state’ and speed up the time it takes to recover post exercise.
Foam rolling works to stretch out muscles and increase movement and flexibility throughout your body by releasing trigger points which hold in the tension. Trigger points, which are essential knots in your muscles, are a source of pain which are held in one area of your body and when probed they can then trigger pain elsewhere.
By using foam rollers you can work to your own pain threshold, increasing and decreasing the pressure applied during the process to fit with the treatment you require. You can add more weight or pressure as your muscles begin to relax and the foam roller becomes more comfortable on your body.
Foam rolling increases the blood flow throughout your body allowing you to enhance your sport performance through a speedier recovery time.
Where to use a Foam Roller
You can use a foam roller on any muscle which you are able to treat through the rolling process, however it is recommended you avoid certain areas such a joints, bones, neck and your lower back. These areas are more sensitied to pain and may require further treatment from a medical professional or sports therapist.
Once you have located the area you are experiencing the most pain, locate the roller on the area and apply your bodyweight to help roll the foam on the muscle. Work on 1 inch per second, rolling slowly, you should start to feel the muscle releasing after around 5-30 second.
You’ll find the most relief from foam rolling in your leg and shoulder muscles. At first you may find it difficult to get into a position where you can roll comfortably, so follow a foam rolling plan to help assist you if you are new to this technique.
Introducing foam rolling into your post workout recovery plan can help to increase your performance for next time and relieve muscle tension throughout your body and is a great way to provide pain relief at home.