Foam rolling is a self-myofascial release (SMR) technique used by athletes to aid in recovery of muscles that are prone to being overactive or that are overused. Fascia is the soft tissue portion of the connective tissue in the muscle that provides support and protection. The fascia can become restricted due to overuse, trauma, and inactivity. Due to any one of these factors, inflammation occurs and if it becomes bad enough the connective tissue can thicken, which results in pain, irritation, and additional inflammation.
Self-myofascial release techniques via foam roller are performed by rolling the foam roller under each muscle group until a tender area is found, and maintaining pressure by one’s own body mass on the tender area for 30–60 seconds. Some of the benefits from foam rolling include:
Improved blood circulation throughout your skin, fascia, muscles, and even tendons and ligaments where you can access them with a foam roller.
Through improved blood circulation, more efficient exchange of nutrients and waste products at a cellular level, leading to better overall cellular function and inter-cellular communication.
Lengthening of short (tight) muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
Some muscles (like hip flexors) and ligaments (iliotibial band) are prone to shortening, and are difficult to effectively stretch and apply therapeutic pressure to using standard massage and trigger point therapy techniques. But with a foam roller, you can apply deep pressure massage to such areas and lengthen shortened tissues, thereby preventing physical imbalances that can predispose you to injury.