The humble foam roller has soared to the upper echelons of every major sport, being found in the changing rooms and training facilities of just about every major sports team around the globe. These days no physio would be complete without a foam roller. 

But why has the foam roller become so integral? Does it even have any benefit? More to the point, what does a foam roller even do?

A Brief History of Foam

The foam roller was originally created and made popular by Mosh Feldenkrais, an Israeli Physicist and Martial Artist. 

Since then, the foam roller has gone from strength to strength and is reported to have a whole host of crucial benefits from improving mobility and flexibility, to assisting recovery and reducing muscle pain.

Feldenkrais was especially enthusiastic about the foam rollers ability to release tissue adhesion and improve muscle length. Generally speaking, foam rolling can be split into two categories: “pre-rolling” as part of a warm-up routine, and “post-rolling” as a recovery tool.

Rolling in the Deep

As mentioned, pre-rolling is done as part of a warm-up routine before any workout. 

The theory here is that by creating what is referred to as a myofascial release that increases the muscles flexibility and strength, thus maximising the outcomes of the forthcoming workout. 

Despite being the less popular method of ‘rolling’, you only need to look around your local gym to see plenty of people breaking out the foam, hoping to improve their mobility and reduce their muscle pain before going for it in their workouts.

Just Keep Rolling

The more common route for foam rolling enthusiasts has been to do the “post-roll” after a workout. 

The idea here is to increase the rate of recovery through consistent pressure and more of that ”myofascial release” that is critical to reducing muscle soreness after a workout.

So, Does any of this Actually Work?

Excellent question, the honest truth is that the foam roller’s effectiveness has very little conclusive evidence beyond what is subjective and what has been observed in clinical settings. 

While some small studies have been carried out, more substantial research is needed to truly confirm what benefits, if any, foam rolling can have.

Results from most genuine studies have shown marginal benefits on the affected muscles before and after workouts, although some of these benefits attributed to the placebo effect.

From our experience foam rolling can definitely be beneficial, but it largely depends what you’re trying to achieve. The bottom line is, though, if done correctly foam rolling shouldn’t do any damage. So if it’s working for you, there’s no reason to stop. 

If you’d like to know more about whether using a foam roller could still be useful to you, or you’re wondering if there might be some neat alternatives to the technique that you’d like to try, then you can contact our trusted team of Mayland physios for an appointment today. 

At Morley Physiotherapy Centre, we can provide you with the professional advice and treatment you need to be able to lead an active and pain-free life.