These pieces of equipment are popular, but do you know why we recommend their use, or how and when to use them?
Why – Muscle release helps to decrease muscle tension, realign muscle fibers that are damaged from exercise and flush out the toxins that are created during exercise. This helps your body restore muscle length and relaxation, which improves recovery and optimises the ability of the muscle to contract and work. Muscle release can also prevent asymmetries caused by muscle tension. These factors aid in reducing the risk of injury. Using a foam roller or massage ball is a method of self-release, that you can use to ease muscle tension and aid in rehabilitation from an injury.
How – Foam rollers are used in many ways for different muscles. They are most commonly used by placing your body weight on top of the roller and moving up and down the muscle, thereby ‘rolling’ over the muscle. They can also be used for the stretching of areas, such as the spine and chest. A massage ball is most commonly used to trigger-point sore muscles, by placing pressure with body weight on the sore area of the muscle, holding it until the tension eases.
When – There are no specific guidelines on when best to perform muscle releases. Research shows that muscle release completed 3 hours after exercise, can help to alleviate muscle soreness (by approximately 30%) and reduce swelling. However, it has not shown any effect on muscle function. We generally recommend completing muscle releases either before your session, to increase blood flow into the muscle and get your body ready to exercise, after you have cooled down from your session, or before you go to bed, as this will help muscles recover while you are sleeping.
Self Release vs. Physiotherapy and Massage
Hands on work will always be more specific and targeted as a therapist understands where you have muscle tension and will adapt the treatment accordingly. Foam rollers and massage balls are tools to use to improve self-management for everyday muscle soreness and to compliment the rehabilitation provided by a physiotherapist.
Everyone has different areas that require releasing. It is recommended that you get advice from a physiotherapist before completing self releases to ensure you use the correct technique on the correct area.
If you need advice on any of the above please do not hesitate to call us to book an appointment on 9970 7982, or alternatively book online at beachlifephysio.com.
Brukner, P., Kahn, K. (eds) Clinical Sports Medicine (3th edn), 2009 McGraw-Hill, North Ryde, Australia.
Zainuddin, Z., Newton, M., Sacco, P., Nosaka, K. (2005) Effects of Massage on Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness, Swelling, and Recovery of Muscle Function. J Athl Train, 40(3): 174–180.