Foam rollers are an effective method of reducing tension and increasing muscle length for either a pre-workout warm-up or post-exercise active recovery. Technically known as self-myofascial release (SMR), the use of foam rollers for the purpose of reducing muscle tension has become a widely accepted fitness practice.
There are two prevailing theories regarding why foam rolling works:
Foam rolling creates length change based on the principle of autogenic inhibition, which involves the sensory receptors of the Golgi tendon organ (GTO) and muscle spindle. The GTO senses tension placed on a muscle, while the spindle identifies length change and the rate of change within a particular muscle. Autogenic inhibition is the response that occurs when a muscle is placed under tension and the GTO sends a signal to the spindles to allow the muscle to lengthen. The pressure of the foam roller on the muscle increases tension on the muscle fibers, signaling the GTO to allow the muscle spindles and fibers to lengthen. The second hypothesis suggests that rolling muscle and connective tissue on a foam roller creates friction between the roller and the involved muscle that generates heat, which causes the tissue to become more gel-like and, thus, more pliable.
While your clients may be less interested in how it works, they definitely want to know why they should be foam rolling on a regular basis. Here are six specific benefits of using foam rollers that you can share with your clients or group fitness participants. The more helpful information you can provide, the more others will look to you as a credible and reliable source of fitness information, which only helps to further your success as a health and fitness professional.
Using foam rollers can reduce the risk of developing adhesions. Tissue adhesions are created as the result of collagen binding between layers of muscle. If a muscle is held in a specific position during extended periods of inactivity or overused during repetitive motions, collagen can form between the layers of skeletal muscle, which can create adhesions or knots that restrict the ability of muscle sheaths to slide against one another. The friction and pressure created by the regular use of a foam roller can keep collagen from binding between layers of muscle tissue. Myofascial release can reduce tissue tension and muscle tightness to increase joint range of motion (ROM). When adhesions bind between layers of tissue, they can