Rolling - what are its benefits?
Massaging foam rollers have gained a lot of popularity these days. We often see people using rollers to massage their muscles before or after exercise. We will tell you why a roller or a ball can be your friend if you train regularly or experience posture problems.
What happens when I use a roller?
By massaging our body, we directly influence the fascial tissue. The fascia is a type of tissue that contains many nerve endings (ten times more than muscles), and it surrounds our whole body - muscles, organs, etc. In fact, most of us have seen it when we cut meat – it’s the thin white film. This tissue needs to remain elastic and slide easily, so that our body can maintain health and fitness. During training or work in certain poses, e.g. in front of a computer, the fascial tissue sticks in place to strengthen our body in maintaining the position. This attachment can cause motion and blood supply disruption, and thus overload the motion system. In these situations, using a roller or a ball will help. Self-massage will nourish this tissue and make it more elastic. Using rollers regularly will lead to better functioning of our bodies.
When should you use a roller? Before or after training?
Researchers from Germany and Australia conducted research in 2019 and have concluded the following: Use rollers before and after training. The aims of this practise are varied. Using a roller before training will increase blood supply to our muscles and improve their flexibility before the actual exercise. It can positively affect our ranges of motion and influence our athletic progress.
It is also a good idea to use a roller after training, because it can decrease post-exercise fatigue.
Unfortunately, researchers also found that rolling does not affect our stretching capabilities. You should stretch yourself statically and train in full ranges of movement.
What should you choose? Rollers that are soft, smooth or with bumps? Or maybe a ball?
The answer depends on two things: our tolerance for pain and location. A roller with large bumps can be less effective because it is much harder for us to control its pressure. The ideal roller hardness will be based on pain tolerance and the level of advancement – a beginner will benefit from a medium-hard roller without large bumps. Rolling can be painful, but it needs to be tolerated in order to allow muscles to relax. However, if we want to work on a smaller or less-reachable area, a ball will be the best choice. For example, you can use it to massage the muscle of the neck or buttocks.
Vibrating rollers have also recently appeared on the market. It’s hard to determine though if they’re any more efficient than classic massage rollers. Efficiency depends primarily on the right technique and body position.
How long do I have to use the roller to achieve my goal?
It’s hard to answer this question because it depends on several components, e.g. how long we’ve struggled with the problem, which area is affected by injury, etc. The general rules are that we should not use a roller for too long before exercise - the massage should be intense, but applied for no longer than 30-40 seconds on each body part. After training we can massage ourselves a bit longer, but going too far can bring the opposite effect. Muscles can be sore after intense massage, so we should not repeat the activity during a single training session.
Personally, we use and recommend our Auto Roller 45cm medium hardness kit and Lacrosse Ball, which can be purchased in the set.
- Thimo Wiewelhove at al. (2019) - Meta-analysis of the effects of foam rolling on efficiency and regeneration. In front of. Physiol. | doi: 10.3389 / fphys.2019.00376
- Romero-Moraleda B. at al. (2019) - The effects of vibrations and vibrations of non-vibrating foam after rediscovery after exercise with induced muscle damage. Journal of Sports Science & Medicine. 2019 Mar; 18 (1): 172-180
- Thomas W. Mayers (2010) - Anatomical tapes. Publication DB