Even though they aren’t new, you aren’t by yourself if you’re wondering what foam rollers are for? To tell the truth, given the tremendous benefits of foam rolling, it’s surprising foam rollers aren’t common house hold items?
Some, like the image above, are made for probing muscles for trigger points that cause sore, painful, and stressed muscles. Others are completely smooth, with many variations in between.
Read more about different types of foam rollers.
What Are Foam Rollers For?
Foam rolling is the most efficient technique I’ve found for muscle pain relief after exercise or a day at my desk.
In a nutshell, they provide a self-administered deep tissue massage.
Evidently I’m not the only one in love with them, either? Foam rolling is on the upswing everywhere. And as we speak, foam rollers are now taking living room floors by storm.
Thankfully, more people every day are learning about trigger points in muscle and fascia. And that releasing these trigger points with a foam roller is often the answer to ongoing muscle pain.
With more people exercising on a regular basis, and more people sitting at a desk every day, back and leg pain is more common than ever before.
Foam Rolling Is No Fad
These simple tools have been common in gyms, physical therapy facilities, massage clinics, and chiropractors for years.
From there foam rolling seemed to have spread to runners, and then to people working out in gyms. Now they are catching on for people coming home from work, or working out, with backaches.
What Are Foam Rollers?
They are all compressed foam in the shape of a cylinder. They come in several different diameters, lengths, degrees of firmness, and styles, and they really work.
You can find them with smooth surfaces, raised bumps, knobs, ribs, and spikes, all made from foam, and many with a soft plastic covering.
They are used for eliminating knots in muscle tissue known as trigger points and reducing muscle tension and soreness. The process is well known in the alternative medicine community.
It’s referred to as Myofascial release and relaxes and stretches contracted muscles and improves blood flow. The process aids in increasing flexibility and range of motion.
What is Fascia?
Fascia is an almost transparent substance like a sheet of tissue between the skin and the muscles. It’s actually throughout the entire body, covering and separating muscles, bones, nerves, along with every other part of the human body.
For our conversation, it’s important to note that it also covers the entire body, under the skin, as sort of a wrapping that holds everything in place and together.
This thin band of connective tissue separating muscles for skin is similar to muscle tissue in that it can contract and expand. It also gets knots in it know as trigger points the same as muscle.
What are Trigger Points?
Trigger points are knots in muscle tissue that cause aching, soreness, and stiffness. They are common, even though most people don’t realize they are often the cause of muscular pain, especially in the neck, back, and legs.
Trigger points are caused when nerves from muscles activate sore spots in specific areas and cause sharp and nasty pain at that spot. However, releasing and relaxing the knot also sends nerve signals to the surrounding muscles to relax.
These points can be close to the surface and in the fascia, but usually deeper in the muscle itself. If you have aching muscles in your back, have someone massage and poke fingers deep into muscles around and above that muscle and locate a particular spot that is very tender.
Once located, have them put as much pressure on that one small spot as you can stand for 3- 5 seconds to release the nerve tension.
Even though the tender spot may remain painful for a few minutes, it will relax the muscles that were causing the disruption. More often than not, the pain we associate with sore muscles can be relaxed and relieved by locating and massaging trigger points above the painful area.
Foam Rollers For Releasing Trigger Points
Trigger point therapy is real and you can do it yourself with foam rollers. I’m not at all advocating you continue on with chronic pain without the help of a physician, but foam rolling can seem like a dream come true.
People are paying for dry needling, acupuncture, getting deep tissue massages, and going to chiropractors for pain relief. Finding, pinpointing, and massaging these trigger points with a foam roller has been a real eye opener for me. I get better results for far less money and inconvenience.
Largely depending on the style, they do anything from stretching and massaging the fascia material to probing deep into muscles for trigger spots. These spots are responsible for a lot of back pain, both low and up to my shoulders.
The only muscles I know of that they are not for are your head and face area.
Other than that, foam rollers are made for releasing the tension from almost every muscle of your body from the soles of your feet to your shoulders and neck.