Dr. Zatrok's blog
Dr. Zatrok's blog

Dr. Zatrok's blog

What is a foam roller? How does it help healing?

by Dr. Zsolt Zatrok

The foam-roller is a simple and very useful muscle-management device for patients and athletes. It is excellent for relieving muscle pain and loosening stiff muscles. You can also use it for stretching, warming up and improving muscle recovery.

The greatest benefit of the foam roller is that it provides the benefits of physiotherapy and massage at the same time. Meanwhile, a foam roller is cheaper than a single exercise or massage and can still be used for years. The main difference between a foam roller and a massage by a masseur is that in a foam roller you use the weight of your body to thoroughly knead muscles and fasciae. In massage, this effect is created by the pressure of the masseur’s hands.

Of course, rolling is no substitute for relaxation-stretching exercises or massage. However, if you can’t afford to pay for a massage after every workout, it’s well worth it to use a foam roller.

How to use a foam roller?

  • It’s simple to use.Calf muscle rolling
  • Decide which part of your body muscles you want to roll, because that will determine your body position.
  • For example, to work the calves, sit on the floor. Place the roller under the calf muscles, perpendicular to the direction of the shin.
  • Rise your hips to place your body weight through the calf onto the foam roller.
  • In a slow, steady motion, roll up and then down. Meanwhile, the foam roller rolls through the muscles.
  • The more weight you put on the foam roller, the more painful the pressure can be. Apply enough pressure to cause acceptable discomfort. Rolling, if done well, will be effective at the “it doesn’t hurt yet” level.
  • The foam roller should not be used on joints! Only use it over muscles! Rolling has no effect on the joints and only puts unnecessary pressure on areas that are already under a lot of strain during exercise (ligaments and tendons).
  • Roll each muscle for 1-2 minutes at most (but thoroughly and intensely). Then move on to another muscle.

You can use similar “logic” to treat almost any muscle group in your body.

The physiological benefits of foam rolling

Increases blood flow

Foam rolling exercises stretch muscles and release stiffness. The foam roller squeezes blood out of the muscles while fresh blood flows into place. This brings vital nutrients such as oxygen and glycogen to the muscles, fasciae and tendons. You can control the “pressure” of the foam roller, the intensity of the massage. The more you put your body weight on it, the more pressure you apply.

Improves mobility and flexibility

Muscles that are better supplied with blood (hydrated) and loose move with less friction. During exercise, movements are smoother and muscles are less likely to strain or injure.

Reduced risk of injury

Better blood flow, mobility and flexibility result in better body coordination. The likelihood of an incorrect movement leading to injury is significantly reduced.

Reduced recovery time

Increased blood circulation flushes out accumulated waste products such as lactic acid. Muscles get the nutrients they need more quickly, resulting in better recovery. The muscle recovers from the fatigue of exercise more quickly, allowing for more intense training work.

Foam roller types

Mambo Max 3-in-1 foam roller

foam roller 3-in-1

A combination of different rollers for beginners and less experienced users.

It contains three different rollers suitable for different treatments:

  • Soft foam roller for beginners. It is easy to use, less painful and helps to “get the feel” of the correct technique.
  • Firm Foam Roller, a ribbed foam roller for more advanced, deeper rolling.
  • Massage wand for targeted massage of sore areas.

Spiky (spiked) foam roller

Spiky foam-roller

The Spiky foam-roller is designed for deep massage and acupressure therapy.

The spikes are perfect for deep tissue massage to relieve muscle tension and pain.

Hollow Foam Roller

Hollow foam-roller

This foam roller is for experienced foam roller users. Who are ready for the “excruciatingly pleasant” pain.

Its material is firmer and the textured surface targets knots and spasming muscles.

Some pain while rolling is necessary and acceptable, but it is important to keep it bearable. The pain should subside within 30 minutes and should not cause irritation or persistent pain.

Ergonomic Foam Roller

Ergonomic foam-roller

Softer and more comfortable than the hollow foam roller. The material is more flexible.

The Ergonomic Foam Roller is perfect for rolling the back (supporting muscles near the spine). The central recess reduces pressure on the vertebral spines.

Its curved shape allows for more than just straight-line rolling. The buds scattered across the surface provide a soothing massage.

Massage Bar

Massage Rod

Two-handed massage tool for self-massage of sore muscle areas.

Common application errors

  • Rolling directly on the painful area
    Take your time. Start by massaging the region around the painful area. Then continue to the problem area.
  • Too rapid rolling.
    If you roll the body part too fast on the foam roller, the muscles won’t have time to adapt to the compression. Therefore, rolling too fast will not eliminate the flattened knots. Rolling should be done in slow movements.
  • Focusing too much on one point. Too much and intense pressure can even damage tissue or nerves. The point of rolling is to slowly apply pressure to a specific muscle group.

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