As physiotherapists, we recommend self-releasing and rolling tight muscles to decrease post exercise soreness, muscle tension, and improve mobility. The recent focus of several articles in the health and fitness press, is that rolling and self-releasing is bad for you!
Just to clarify; self-releasing is not bad for you! However, the point that these articles are making is that persistent tightness in an area means something is not working as it should or an area is moving incorrectly! Rolling is simply a quick fix, a band-aid. It does not address the underlying problem. When someone is experiencing ongoing tightness, a physiotherapy assessment will find the dysfunction in body mechanics and determine the cause i.e. weakness, decreased range of motion, poor coordination or poor technique.
“Rolling is simply a quick fix, a band-aid.
It does not address the underlying problem.”
Let’s use the iliotibial band (ITB) as an example. The ITB is a connective tissue structure that runs down the outer thigh from the side of the hip to the outside of the knee. Tension in this tissue and surrounding muscles can cause pain and injuries in the hip and knee. This is common in sports with repetitive leg movements such as running and cycling. Releasing and rolling the ITB and surrounding muscles is commonly completed to ease tension, and therefore reduce pain. There are many reasons why this region can become tight; such as weakness or tightness in the hip stabilising muscles, poor technique or poor equipment set up. Therefore, releasing the ITB may temporarily ease the pain but will not correct the problem!
“Self-release is a useful technique used in combination with a
comprehensive rehabilitation program”
In summary, rolling is NOT BAD for you! Self-release is a useful technique but must be used in combination with a comprehensive rehabilitation program to resolve the injury.
On a side note, many articles also state that rolling the ITB is ineffective as the structure is a non-contractile connective tissue (unlike a muscle that contracts and shortens). However, there are other benefits to rolling. These include stretching of the fascia (connective tissue overlying the ITB), releasing the muscles around the ITB and creating changes in pain responses. If rolling the ITB is found to improve mobility and decrease pain, we recommend it is used as a self-management technique in COMBINATION with a full rehabilitation program.
If you have an area of persistent tightness and tension that needs regular releasing, seek advice sooner rather than later! Get a physiotherapy assessment and comprehensive rehabilitation program to decrease pain, prevent future injury and keep you doing what you love! Please do not hesitate to call us to book an appointment on 9970 7982, or alternatively book online.
Brukner, P., Kahn, K. (eds) Clinical Sports Medicine (3th edn) 2009. McGraw-Hill, North Ryde, Australia.
Cheatham, S. W., Kolber, M. J., Cain, M., Lee, M. 2015. The effects of self‐myofascial release using a foam roll or roller massager on joint range of motion, muscle recovery, and performance: a systematic review, Int J Sports Phys Ther, vol. 10, iss. 6, pp. 827-838.
MacDonald, G.Z., Penney, M. D. H., Mullaley, M. E., Cuconato, A. L., Drake, C. D..J., Behm, D. G., Button, D. C. 2013. An Acute Bout of Self-Myofascial Release Increases Range of Motion Without a Subsequent Decrease in Muscle Activation or Force. J of Strength & Cond Res, vol. 27, iss. 3, pp. 812-821.