Foam rollers are becoming more popular. A foam roller is a single piece of somewhat solid round foam, usually about two feet long. People especially use them when their iliotibial ligaments along the leg are tight, but a roller can also be used on many other muscle components and groups. They are used by laying the body part you wish to loosen up on top of the roller. Then you maneuver your body so that it rolls over the foam. The theory behind this is that rolling breaks up myofascial adhesions, giving you a much freer feel in the soft tissue of the affected area.
Does foam rolling work? The short answer is technically yes, especially for persons with no acute injuries or muskulo-skeletal dysfunctions. The weight of your body mashing along that hard piece of foam will indeed break up some adhesions. For most of the general population, however, Body Fix Therapies does not recommend the use of foam rollers without proper monitoring from a skilled bodyworker or physical therapist. Here are some reasons why:
- Because you are laying your body weight on the foam, it’s extremely difficult to only allow a safe amount of pressure on the roller. Gravity will sometimes pull your body down too hard on the foam. Then, when you roll your body, the amount of pressure in that area is far too aggressive. Will it cut through adhesions? Yes. Will it cause minor to moderate soft tissue damage, such as bruising? Quite probably Yes!
- For the average person, moving your body along the foam roller is more than your muscles can handle. It’s usually the muscles in the upper body that are trying to push you up enough so that you can roll and then push your body forwards and backwards. It’s the equivalent of doing a slightly assisted plank while pushing and pulling at the same time. For the average person, who doesn’t work out three or more times a week with high intensity weight training, this is way out of their ability.
- Anyone who has ever used a foam roller can attest that they hurt! Is this the time to apply “No pain, no gain?” Well, think about this: myofascial adhesions are created when the tissue in the area is not functioning properly and it adheres together to add stability. The greater the need for stability, the thicker and stronger the adhesions become. In other words, the more damaged or weak the area is, the worse the adhesions are. The last thing you want to do to an area that is already damaged is add more stress or damage to it. Rollers may tear through some of those adhesions, but now your body senses that it’s been through a trauma in that area and will respond accordingly with inflammation, muscle tensions and ultimately more adhesions!
For athletes or very physically fit persons, the foam roller can be a beneficial aid to incorporate into their routines. These people usually have the physical capabilities to handle their body weight and the movements required to use a foam roller without causing further soft tissue damage or over-stressing other parts of the body. Men particularly have an easier time than women, purely based on the fact that they typically have more upper body strength. On top of that, physically fit persons don’t generate a high level of adhesions, as they generally have much healthier tissue and joints. The result is far fewer adhesions than people without a physically active life.
But I Need Those Adhesions Gone!
Of course, the restricted movement that comes with adhesions needs to be addressed. Myofascial release therapy is a bodywork technique specifically designed to reduce adhesions and free up movement. At Body Fix Therapies, we incorporate myofascial release into our treatments all the time. A trained therapist adjusts and modifies pressure and speed to reduce adhesions while putting the least amount of stress on your body. Keep in mind, due to the physical requirements for breaking up adhesions, myofascial release work is the least comfortable of all bodywork for the patient. That being said, we make sure you do not feel like you have been through a trauma after such treatment.
What Causes Myofascial Adhesions
Myofascial adhesions don’t just happen. There is always an underlying cause, typically a musculoskeletal dysfunction of some sort, such as misalignment of posture or compensatory habits due to old or repetitive strain injuries. We believe that treating the root cause of the problem is always the best and most long-lasting approach for dealing with adhesions. Thus, our trained bodywork therapists know how to assess a patient to determine the root causes of adhesions and to recommend a fix. Each person is different and deserves a personalized treatment plan that incorporates bodywork specific to them. And bodywork is only a part of the equation. Therefore, our reputable therapists recommend adjustments and home therapies specific to each person’s symptoms to limit the return of myofascial adhesions.
So if you or someone you know uses a foam roller, or is considering their use, have them give us a call. Myofascial adhesions are no fun. Treating them in the best way for your body is a priority! Let Body Fix Therapies of Sacramento help you get rid of myofascial adhesions in the right way.