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The Science Behind Foam Rolling + Why it Helps Your Recovery

If you’ve been in the gym lately (or taking one online class, if that’s more your thing), you may have noticed people foam rolling for stretching and recovery. 

Foam rollers – a tool used for myofascial release – are becoming a staple in the fitness world. While they may seem silly-looking and unnecessary, foam rolling can actually be incredibly beneficial for your body.

Here at Axis Sports Medicine, we’re not just about the latest fads; we’re about evidence-based practices that help you achieve your peak. So, let’s dive into the fascinating science of foam rolling and discover why it’s your secret weapon for optimal recovery.

The picture above shows how you can foam roll your hamstrings! You can roll other muscles by using the same technique!

What is Foam Rolling?

Foam rolling is a self-massage technique involving applying controlled pressure to your muscles and fascia using a cylindrical foam roller. This pressure is thought to:

  • Break up muscle knots and adhesions: Fascia, the connective tissue surrounding your muscles, can become tight and restrictive, limiting movement and contributing to pain. Foam rolling is believed to help loosen these adhesions, improving tissue mobility and reducing discomfort.
  • Increase blood flow: Applying pressure while rolling can boost blood flow to the specific area, supplying vital nutrients and oxygen to your muscles. This aids in the healing process and facilitates muscle repair.
  • Trigger your nervous system: Foam rolling stimulates mechanoreceptors within your muscles and fascia, sending signals to your nervous system. This can help modulate pain perception and promote relaxation, contributing to overall recovery.

An example of foam rolling could be:

  1. Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you. Place the foam roller under your right hamstring, just above your knee.
  2. Lean back slightly, resting your weight on your hands or forearms. Keep your core engaged to stabilize your spine.
  3. Slowly roll your right hamstring back and forth over the foam roller, focusing on any tender spots. Breathe deeply and exhale as you roll over tight areas.
  4. Continue rolling for 10-15 seconds.
  5. Repeat steps 1-4 on your left hamstring.

Does Science Back Up Foam Rolling as a Recovery Technique?

Research supports these mechanisms of action. A study published in the Journal of Sports Medicine & Physical Fitness found that foam rolling improved range of motion and decreased muscle soreness after exercise. 

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) also acknowledges the potential benefits of foam rolling for pain management and rehabilitation, citing its ability to improve muscle tone, decrease muscle stiffness, and reduce pain sensitivity.

It’s important to note that attempting to self-treat an injury can be dangerous and should only be done with the approval of a healthcare provider. If you’re dealing with pain or an injury, it’s best to seek professional help before attempting any kind of treatment. 

Why It Matters for Your Recovery

At Axis Sports Medicine, we understand the importance of optimal recovery for preventing injury and maximizing performance. Foam rolling is a simple yet effective tool that can significantly enhance your post-workout routine and overall well-being:

  • Reduced Muscle Soreness: Rolling out those tight muscles after exercise can help reduce the dreaded DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) and get you back on track faster.
  • Improved Range of Motion: By breaking up adhesions and increasing flexibility, foam rolling can enhance your range of motion, allowing you to move more freely and efficiently.
  • Injury Prevention: Improved tissue mobility and increased blood flow can help prevent injuries by reducing muscle tightness and improving neuromuscular control.
  • Enhanced Performance: By activating muscles and improving neuromuscular efficiency, foam rolling can prepare your body for peak performance in your next workout or competition.

Do I Need to Foam Roll with a Trained Professional?

Foam rolling is relatively safe and can be done independently with the right technique – there are plenty of online resources and products you can purchase to help if you’re unsure. 

However, if you are unsure of how to properly foam roll or want to use specific exercises to target a certain muscle group, it is advisable to seek guidance from a trained professional such as a physiotherapist or personal trainer. 

They will be able to provide you with tailored advice on how to safely and effectively foam roll for optimal results.

At Axis Sports Medicine, we’re dedicated to providing you with the tools and knowledge you need to maximize your recovery and reach your full potential. Our team of experienced physical therapists can help you develop a personalized foam rolling routine tailored to your specific needs and goals.

So, ditch the post-workout stiffness and embrace the science-backed power of foam rolling. Your body will thank you for it.

Contact Axis Sports Medicine today to book your physical therapy appointment in Summit County or Eagle County, CO and get started on the road to recovery.

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Avon + Edwards are Joining Forces

avon colorado physical therapists

After much thought and evaluation by our team, we have decided to consolidate our Edwards clinic into our Avon clinic location. 

Our staff and resources from our Edwards location will be moved into our Avon clinic on October 31, 2023.

We are excited to be able to offer a wider option of appointment times to accommodate patient needs in one location.

Our Avon location is 142 E Beaver Creek Blvd, Suite 109, next door to Doctors on Call and Kiwi International Delights.