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Foam Rollers: Improve Flexibility, Reduce Pain and Loosen Tight Muscles

Foam rollers have gained a lot of attention and popularity recently, and for good reason.

They are a simple, inexpensive tool, and when used correctly, can help release muscle tightness and trigger points (commonly referred to as “knots”). Foam rollers provide myofascial release, giving you the ability to provide yourself an effective self-massage almost anywhere on your body.

Knots are essentially adhesions in the muscle; areas where overuse, or chronic/repetitive use creates a fibrous knot where muscle fibers stick together, either due to repeated build-up of lactic acid or in response to an injury or strain.

These knots impede the movement of muscle fibers, negatively affecting mobility and flexibility. They also prevent the normal flow of oxygen and nutrients to the muscle, in turn affecting normal use, growth and repair. In a domino effect, this often puts additional strain on surrounding muscles and creates an imbalance which can increase the risk of injury and additional chronic pain issues. Having the ability to release these knots – which are very common, even in people who are not heavy exercisers or athletes – is a huge advantage and can make life much more comfortable.

Stretching alone is not always enough to provide normal function in muscles that are sore or tight, which is why foam rolling is a great supplement. Basically what you are doing is applying pressure to specific muscles in your body, allowing for release and relief, which also enhances mobility and recovery. The deep compression provided by this technique not only helps to relax tight muscles, it also helps to break up those adhesions mentioned earlier.

Although the practice is about as simple as it gets, there is a correct way to take advantage of the foam rolling technique. Start with moderate pressure to a specific muscle, using your body weight. No rushing – roll slowly, about one inch per second. When you hit a spot that feels tight or painful, pause for several seconds. Relax…within 30 seconds you should feel a release and easing of discomfort.

Sometimes it’s too painful to apply direct pressure. In that case, shift the roller to the surrounding area. You can work your way around and gradually loosen things up. Some people have been scared off by hearing that foam rolling is painful; used correctly you should not feel discomfort any greater than you would during a deep tissue massage. And when you’re done, you feel great! The trick is to do a little research before starting, and to take things slowly and carefully as your body gets used to this technique. Here are a few cautions to keep in mind:


  • Never use a foam roller on a joint or bone.
  • Avoid rolling your lower back. You can use a tennis or lacrosse ball, but take care not to overdo it!
  • Do not use a foam roller on your neck – seek professional guidance if you are having neck issues. We offer complimentary consultations, and would be happy to evaluate your neck pain (561-278-6055).


When purchasing a foam roller, keep in mind that the firmness affects how the roller feels during use; extra firm rollers provide a deeper, more intense massage. We offer foam rollers on our website (see below). Feel free to call or come in before you buy to make sure you’re purchasing the correct roller for your needs. Questions? Give us a call at (561)278-6055.


Order your foam roller by clicking here.

Read more about Foam Rolling on BreakingMuscle.com.

Foam-Roller.com is another good source of information.

We have an outstanding team of licensed physical therapists. If you are considering physical therapy, please call us for your complimentary consultation. We’re ready to get you back into pain-free living! 561-278-6055

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