Foam Roller in Physical Therapy Exercise Prescription
Written by Melis.
A foam roller is an increasingly important piece of equipment in physical therapy programs or exercises. These rollers, which have been proven to have many positive effects, are easy to use, affordable and available in different shapes and sizes. Whereas the 6″ round, 36″ long format is commonly used for more advanced exercises, the half roll can be preferred for lighter pressure. In terms of their price, although high-density foam rollers are a bit more expensive, they are more durable and effective.
Foam rollers have many benefits for muscle health by producing the effects of massage and self-myofascial release. To reach very deep muscle tissue, using the proper technique and pressure is important. You should position yourself by lying on the foam roll with the affected body part directly on the top of the roll and then start slowly rolling back and forth by putting some pressure into targeted areas. If you realize any points, which are called “trigger points”, in the muscle that are specifically uncomfortable and might cause muscle imbalances, you should work more on these areas during your exercise. The benefits of deep tissue massage with a foam roller are listed below:
- Break down fibrous scar tissues
- Stretch tight muscles
- Increase flexibility
- Increase blood flow and circulation
- Relieve pain
- Restore the optimal balance in the muscle
Mobility and flexibility are other matters that should be considered for healthy joints. Many stretching exercises can be performed with a foam roller to improve flexibility and increase mobility of stiff muscles. The most common reasons for having stiff and tight muscles are hard physical work and hunching over desks and computers, therefore the most affected areas are pecs, anterior chest and thoracic or mid-spine levels. It is recommended getting help from a physiotherapist to detect specific areas that need targeting. To give an example, you can passively stretch the pecs while lying on the foam roller that is along your spine. In this position, bend your elbows 90 degrees and bring them to the shoulder level and then slowly let your hands drop back towards the floor and stay there for 30 seconds.
In addition to all these intended purposes of foam rollers, they can also be included in balance and strengthening exercise programs. There are many ways to improve balance on unstable surfaces such as BOSU balls and balance boards as well as foam rollers. It is possible to improve core strength by focusing on deep muscles of both the abdomen and back while performing these exercises and sports specific movements. As an example, doing bridging with your feet on the roll is a beneficial exercise for back strength and core stability. Simply, while lying on your back with your knees bent and feet on the roller, you lift your hips and torso off of the floor by keeping your head and shoulders on the floor. You can progress from easy to difficult such as starting on the stable surface, then placing your feet on a half roll, then placing your feet on a full roll, then placing only one foot on the roll and then sitting on the roll.
To achieve best results, you can work with our well-trained physiotherapist who can offer proper assessment and prescription of a suitable exercise program. Click here to CONTACT US for any questions!
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