Many of us have seen that person moving around the ground in pain with a strange object under their body. What the hell is that all about anyway?
The object is called a “foam roller” because it rolls and it is made of foam (genius!). The technique is called self-myofascial release. And the point of it? To release tension and tightness of the muscles.
So does it work? and more importantly, is it worth the pain ( surely there’s pain, I mean look at that girls face in the above link)?
Well I have used a foam roller on and off over the past 5 years and I have to say it is pretty gnarly when you find a tender spot in your muscle somewhere. You can alter the pain level by applying or taking away the pressure placed on the roller. The plus side though, is that I did feel less tightness in muscles after using it. And each time I did use it, the pain eased off a little bit more. You can use it almost anywhere on the body, the calf, the quad, the back, even the chest ( I am male though so it might be a little different for a female with more tissue in that area).
I was curious though, was there any scientific evidence? Does it actually work, or is it all in the head?
A quick search led me to 5 studies using a foam roller. 5 is not very many for something so widely performed, but lets go with it.
In 2013, scientists found an increase range of motion of the knee joint after rolling the quadricep (that big muscular area from your knee to your hip). Good news. In 2014 , most studies found that the biggest effect of using a foam roller was reduced exercise soreness, commonly know as DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), and increased range of motion again.
I am pretty happy to have found this proof, as all I had to go on was my own experience and a load of other websites claiming benefits. Now we know we can use them to keep ourselves mobile and reduce our pain after exercise.
Before I move on, check this out to see the differences in foam rollers. I actually use a Grid.
So how just 10 minutes, like my title says?
Kelly Starrett, one of the most influential physical therapists, in the world right now, suggests we perform 2-minutes of work on each muscle and ideally do it twice. Since we have the same muscle on each side of our body, that makes 2 muscles, 2-minutes, twice = 8-minutes. The extra 2 minutes are there to give you a breather between each one.
So try this.
After a session of lots of squatting, work on those quads. Here’s how. Don’t worry about learning the names of those muscles.
After a lot of pulling movements, work on the upper back. Here’s how