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What is a foam roller and how is it used?

Monday, September 6, 2021

Foam roller is a tool that many athletes use. In this article, I will explain what foam roller is, the researches about it, its working principles and how well it works.

Textures and Foam roller

It is useful to examine the tissues affected by foam roles. As you get to know the textures, you will understand the working mechanism of foam roles. Our tissue group in question is fascia.

Fascia; It is a connective tissue element that enables muscle, organ and other organ structures to be more stable, to work properly and to hold together. Foam roller is a sports equipment that claims to be able to relax the fascia.

We know that the fascia connects the muscles and creates stiffness. If you can flex the fascia, you can increase the range of motion of the joints. So you can move more comfortably. And with it, there is an increase in performance.

As we will examine this tool, our topic will be muscle fascia. Because the foam roller targets myofascial tissue.

What is a foam roller?

Foam roller can be defined as a sponge wrapped on a roller in different sizes, used to relieve the myofascial tissue, which is a kind of connective tissue, by the athlete.

What does foam roller do?

There are many claims about foam roller. Increased flexibility, performance improvement, acceleration of muscle hypertrophy. So how true are these claims?

Foam roller and flexibility

Flexibility is an issue that coaches have spent serious time and effort for many years. Although static stretching sessions have been seen as the most effective method in this regard until recently, now we have foam rollers.

I will talk about a few researches on this subject, and I will go into more detail.

A group of people are participating in the research to determine whether using foam rollers alters hip extension clearance. The first group of the participants divided into two groups is the control group and does not use foam rollers, while the second group uses foam rollers. Participants who exercise for seven days do lunge twice a day, five repetitions in each set, and after the exercise, the first group does nothing, while the second group uses foam rollers.

When the hip extension gap of the subjects is observed at the end of the seven days, it is seen that the foam roller users have more extension opening. However, something is noticeable in researchers who stopped using foam roles. In the subjects who stop using it, the hip extension gap returns to its original state. This means that you need to use it constantly.

In another study: A group of athletes are doing resistance training and stretching exercises for six months. With these studies, the ankle dorsiflexion joint opening is tested.

At the end of the test: 6.2% increase in joint opening in athletes who do static stretching, 9.1% increase in joint opening in athletes using static stretching and foam rollers, and minimal joint clearance increase in athletes using only foam rollers.

The research shows us that foam rollers alone have a minimal effect, but when combined with static stretching movements, it will provide a better flexibility.

As a result, although foam roller is a method that can contribute in terms of flexibility, we cannot say that its effects continue for a long time. Continuing to use foam rollers is of course an option. But static stretch still holds true.

Foam roller and exercise

Increasing exercise performance is as important as increasing joint clearance.

A group of athletes playing basketball are participating in the research to examine the effect of using foam roller on athlete performance. During the research, the volunteers are given strength training. In the study, upright jumping strength, isometric leg extension strength, hip range of motion are recorded before and after the study.

While the hip range of motion increased in individuals using dynamic stretching and foam rollers in athletes who were divided into three groups who used dynamic stretching, deep tissue foam rollers and did nothing, there was no significant difference in power in individuals using Foam roller, dynamic stretching and no treatment.

As a result, this and many studies show that using foam rollers does not provide meaningful times in performance improvement.

Foam roller and delayed muscle pain (DMS)

Delayed muscle pain can seriously disturb athletes who exercise intensely. In addition, delayed muscle pain often prevents full performance from unfolding.

A group of men who do sports regularly are taken into research to examine the effect of foam roller use on delayed muscle pain. Participants who squat 10 sets a day and 10 repetitions per set for four weeks are examined in two groups as using foam rollers and those who do not.

Participants’ sense of pain with touch, thirty-meter sprint time, broad jump length are evaluated.

As a result of the research, the group using foam rollers has shorter sprint time and less muscle sensitivity. As a result, using foam rollers reduces delayed muscle pain.

Foam roller, which we think will not improve performance, helps to reveal the current performance potential by reducing delayed muscle pain. For this reason, foam rollers may seem to increase performance in athletes suffering from intense delayed muscle pain.

How to use foam roller?

First of all, let me talk about when and how often you should use foam rollers. Foam roller can be used before and after training. Pre and post-training period, foam roller usage preference is closely related to injury profile and exercise performance expectation. For this reason, pre- and post-workout usage preference is not clear.

The point you should pay attention to here should be that using foam rollers before stretching exercises will increase the effect you will get from stretching exercises.

In addition, the duration of use is also very important. Although the studies conducted have a wide use / response scale, I recommend using it four days a week based on my personal experience and research opinion.

In every usage session, there should be 45 seconds at the beginning of the area. The muscle and fascia profile of the region are important factors in determining the duration of need.

Things to watch out for about foam roller

I have touched on many issues about foam roller. But the foam roller is not the main sport vehicle, it is just a supportive vehicle. For this reason, there are points you should pay attention to.

Should not be used with excessive pressure

Individuals using foam rollers think that the more they hurt, the more benefits they will benefit. The situation is completely wrong. Excessive pressure can damage structures and delay the healing process. In fact, if you feel delayed muscle pain more than normal with the foam rolling you do to feel less pain, it means things are not going well for you.

Muscle loss should be taken into account

If you want to gain muscle mass, foam roller means nothing to you. In fact, muscle tissue is very sensitive after exercise. Long and hard foam rolling sessions can damage muscle tissue.

Stance and technique

When using foam roller, it is very important to remember that your body is a whole. Poor posture during use can cause the center of gravity to change and pressure to be applied to out of purpose points.

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