What are the Benefits of Foam Rolling in Physical Therapy


Foam Rolling Exercises

Foam rolling is an exercise and massage technique involving rolling different parts of the body over a specially designed foam tube. This method of self-myofascial release is also used in physical therapy to improve flexibility and reduce muscle soreness. A body roller is the only equipment needed for this form of self-massage and exercise. This is a lightweight cylindrical tube made of compressed foam.

A foam roller also comes in other shapes. This physical therapy exercise equipment is available in different sizes, textures and degrees of firmness. When searching for the best foam roller for physical therapy, choose one that can fit into your exercise regimen and rehabilitation program.

What You Gain by Foam Rolling

One of the main reasons foam rolling is becoming increasingly popular for workout and rehabilitation is that it doesn’t require bulky or expensive equipment. The best muscle roller is one that provides the most benefits and can be used anywhere. There have been more than a few studies investigating the benefits and mechanics of foam rolling. These identify the following five reasons to use a body roller.


Improves Flexibility and Range of Motion

Foam rolling improves muscle flexibility when added to pre- and post-workout routines. Before starting your exercises, use a body roller to stretch leg and arm muscles. Stretched and lubricated muscles slide past one another easily. Improving flexibility also increases the range of motion. For maximum benefit, combine foam rolling with static stretching before starting a workout. Increased flexibility and improved range of motion reduce the risk of injury while exercising. Use a roller along with resistance bands and physical therapy weights to strengthen and tone recovering muscles during rehabilitation. When looking for the best massage roller for a physiotherapy routine, choose one that can knead cramped muscles effectively and reduce stiffness with moderate pressure applied.

Increases Blood Flood and Vascular Function

Another benefit of the myofascial release produced by foam rolling is improved blood circulation. The pressure from a body roller stimulates increased blood flow to sore muscles. Improved circulation brings oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to massaged body parts and speeds up the removal of lactic acid accumulated in the muscles following intense exercises.

Research shows that foam rolling also improves arterial flexibility and vascular function. These benefits are the reasons the best foam rollers contribute to improving long-term cardiovascular health. Boosting blood circulation also offers other short- and long-term health benefits. For example, increased blood flow improves muscle performance and capacity for aerobic exercises.

Improves Posture

Using a body roller as a massage tool can help realign the spine and flatten hunched shoulders. By reducing muscle tension and stiffness, this textured foam relieves pressure on the spine and contributes to the slow redistribution of muscle mass. To improve posture, try foam rolling on the back, shoulder and abdominal muscles. Making these target muscles more pliable relieves pressure on the spine and allows patients to sit and stand straight. In this way, the best massage rollers also improve balance and gait.

Improves Post-Exercise Recovery

Foam rolling is just as good for recovering from intense exercises as it is for warming up for them. The best foam rollers decrease recovery time so users can return to their workout regimens quickly and avoid lingering injuries. These massage and rehabilitation tools speed up the healing of sore muscles and reduce inflammation. A good part of the effect of a body roller on post-exercise recovery involves improved blood circulation. Besides removing lactic acid build-up from muscles and tissues, increased blood flow also contributes to recovery by moving nutrients and cells of the immune system to injured areas.

Reduces Muscle Pain

As part of helping sore muscles relax and become more flexible, self-myofascial release can also reduce chronic muscle pain. It's especially useful in managing chronic back and hip pain. When used along with personal care medical supplies such as compression bandages, knee braces and joint supports, the best muscle rollers can reduce incidences of chronic pain flare-ups. Physical therapists routinely use them to manage symptoms of conditions, such as fibromyalgia, arthritis and lower back pain.


How to Pick the Best Foam Roller

Selecting the right body roller is necessary to enjoy the benefits of foam rolling. Foam rollers come in different sizes, shapes, densities and textures. To see all available varieties, look for a brand that offers different types of these massage, workout and rehabilitation tools. For example, shoppers can find a varied selection of foam rollers among CanDo® products for physical therapy available at CeilBlue™.

Most foam rollers are cylindrical with an average length of 3 ft. and a diameter of 6 in. There are shorter and thinner units, and these have certain benefits. For example, the best foam roller for massaging arms and calves is a short one. Unlike long units, short rollers don't get in the way when used on small body areas. Short rollers are also more travel-friendly. On the other hand, a standard long tube is the best muscle roller for the back and hip.

Choose a roller with a diameter smaller than 6 in. if you prefer it to sit lower on the floor. A low unit is more stable and ideal for individuals just starting their physical therapy programs. This is also the best massage roller for the elderly.

The density or firmness of a foam roller determines how it feels when using it. Choose a hard foam for deep tissue massages and a softer one for less intense massages. A body roller can have standard, soft or firm foam density. A soft density roller has the most pliancy. Choose this level of cushioning for gentle massages and comfortable body rolling. Even when selecting soft foam units, the best muscle roller to pick is the one that maintains its shape and firmness after extended heavy use.

A standard density foam roller has medium firmness and is ideal for most massages and exercises involving foam rolling. A medium-density unit is also the one to choose when looking for a body roller for yoga and Pilates. A firm density roller provides the most intense rolling experience. Its tightly packed foam has very little give in order to provide effective myofascial release for tense, chiseled muscles. This is the best foam roller for athletes, bodybuilders and very active individuals.

A ridged roller is also the best fit for individuals with highly developed muscles. The spike-like ridges on the foam provide an intense deep tissue massage and are capable of kneading taut and packed muscles. For most people and physical therapy and workout routines, smooth and lightly textured body rollers provide needed challenge and massage

While most foam rollers are cylinders with round faces, many physical therapy equipment brands also offer other shapes. The most prominent of these is the hemispherical or half-round foam. Its flat bottom limits rolling and improves stability. This design is ideal for beginners as well as for knee rehabilitation and ankle stretching. It's also possible to flip a half-round body roller over and stand on its flat side for balance training.

More Gain, Less Pain: How to Safely Use Foam Rolling for Fitness and Recovery

Foam rollers can stretch and massage almost any muscle group in the body. These physical therapy tools are commonly used to target back, shoulder, neck and calf muscles. A body roller is also one of the few pieces of massage equipment capable of providing myofascial release for the IT band, the group of muscles and tendons running from the knee through the thigh to the hip.

While it’s easy to work this stretching tool into an exercise routine, you should do so correctly in order to avoid bruising and injuring targeted muscles. The best foam roller routines start slowly and with light pressure. When taking on foam rolling for the first time, using a hard roller can cause significant discomfort. Adjust the pressure applied if rolling becomes painful. To do this, take off some bodyweight by providing support with your arms.

Be careful when rolling tender areas. Avoid firm density and ridged rollers for sore and tender muscles. A beginner looking for the best massage roller experience should roll for 10 seconds and then take a break when working on such areas. Increase the duration of each session as taut muscles loosen up and become more flexible, for up to 60 seconds.

Foam rolling combines massage and light exercises to provide relief for cramped and sore muscles. This simple technique only requires a body roller, an affordable foam tube you can take anywhere. Take the first step to improving muscle flexibility, blood circulation and posture while reducing muscle pain and recovery time by picking this physical therapy tool. You can find the best foam roller to enjoy these benefits when shopping for physical therapy supplies at CeilBlue.