For this blog post, we have asked our newest member of our Spinefit family, Mr. Lum Jer Shin (or J.S.) to share his thoughts on the use of foam rollers as part of a person’s cooling down or stretching routine. J.S. assists Ms Gervince as a Rehab Specialist and he is well-versed on the topic of foam rolling, having done a research paper specifically on this subject as part of his tertiary qualification.
Foam rollers come in various colours, densities, length and designs. The most common ones are the short, cylindrical shaped rolls often found at gyms or studios. Foam rolling is a form of self-myofascial release (SMR) stretching technique. As mentioned earlier, it can be included into a person’s cooling down or stretching routine after a workout.
What is a trigger point?
To give some background, our body is covered with soft tissue called fascia and it covers every structure of our body including muscles, organs, nerves and blood vessels. The fascia that specifically covers our muscles are called myofascia. When the myofascia is stressed from overuse or trauma, it can tear and adhere together. These adhesions are called “trigger points” and can prevent a muscle from working well.
Trigger points often increase muscle stiffness leading to a decrease in the range of motion. Trigger points restrict blood flow throughout the muscle fibre, starving the tissue from oxygen and its essential nutrients. These restrictions cause a buildup of metabolic waste and toxins around the trigger points which then cause pain, tension and muscle spasms, leaving the individual very uncomfortable.
So why would you use a foam roller?
By using a foam roller, it’ll bring relief to the tight muscles. The foam roller works to break up the adhesions and trigger points to help speed up the healing and recovery process. Foam rollers use the body’s natural response to pressure and as it is used over the trigger points, the muscle relaxes. By using your body, you can either roll back and forth over the particular trigger point or apply a sustained pressure for tighter muscles.
However, those of you who may have congestive heart or kidney conditions should take extra precaution when attempting to do foam rolling. Do check with the team or your medical practitioner if it is safe for you to do foam rolling if you have a pre-existing condition.
When is it a good time to do foam rolling?
Foam rolling can be done virtually anytime! Highly recommended to be done before static or dynamic stretching activities, foam rolling would be most effective when it is done as part of your workout routine. It can also be done post-workout as part of the cooling down routine.
There are many resources on the web (an example) and on YouTube (an example) showing different foam rolling techniques. Everyone is unique and you should use the technique that works best for your trigger points. It may hurt at the beginning, but as you foam roll over the tender areas (about 30 to 90 seconds per trigger point); over time you will find that it gets easier.
If you need more information or clarification, why not drop by our clinic and speak to us. Our team will be more than happy to meet with you and if needed, you can make an appointment to consult with the doctors to get all your questions answered.
Lum Jer Shin or J.S. is our newest Rehab Specialist. He holds an honours degree in Physiotherapy from University Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR). Although he may be a recent graduate, J.S. has had over 3 years of experience working with patients with musculoskeletal conditions during his internships at some of Klang Valleys’ busiest general hospitals. He also has experience working on the sidelines at various sporting events around Kuala Lumpur.