Using foam rollers can be a great way to relieve nerve and muscle tightness at home – it’s something we’re seeing more and more people use. However it’s not something that should be used for everything and, if you’re not doing it properly then you can miss out on the benefits or make injuries worse.
Why use a roller?
Using a roller is basically a way of giving yourself a deep tissue massage and it’s also a treatment type that’s still fairly new so we’re learning more about it every day. When used properly it can relieve nerve and muscle tightness and help treat muscles that are difficult to stretch properly. It’s also something that’s relatively easy to do at home, either to deal with an existing problem or to complement treatment you receive from your physio.
Where should you use a roller?
This is an area with plenty of differing opinions and I’ve seen people using rollers on a really wide range of muscles and body parts!
At Physiotherapy Central our advice is to only use a roller for muscles and tissue that you can’t easily stretch – so on the outer part of the thigh and parts of the lower leg. It can also be used on calf muscles but this is often much harder work and not as effective as a good stretching programme.
How should you use a roller?
It can be a bit painful the first time you use a roller, but after a week or so it gets easier and will soon feel like a normal deep massage.
There’s no ‘one size fits all’ way of using a roller so we’d always recommend seeking professional advice first, but these are some simple tips that should help you get the best from it.
If you’re using it properly then just one minute a day can be enough – repeating every day or two initially and then easing off depending on progress.
If or when you hit a sore point – don’t leave it there (contrary to advice we’ve seen elsewhere); keep going at the same steady pace and see it all the way through the roll.
It’s also important to get the right roller and this again depends very much on the person and the injury – some can be too painful and leave you with a constant dead leg, whilst others can be too soft and will be of little benefit.
What’s key is maintaining its use – don’t give up after a few days as you won’t feel the benefit.