Foam roller myofascial release has grown in popularity and can provide a useful addition to any self maintenance routine. However, as with other forms of self myofascial release (SMR), Self Myofascial Release all techniques have limits. Such limits include what one can achieve and when it is safe to use any specific technique. There are many questionable videos of the internet showing people foam rolling nearly every part of the body.
Basic level massage therapy training includes aspects of anatomy, physiology and techniques. Massage therapists are also taught when it is safe or not to apply various techniques, along with how to apply such methods. Foam rollers aim to mimic basic massage techniques such as petrissage and stripping. A massage therapist could apply such methods to effectively treat a wider variety of tissues than somebody using a foam roller.
The limitations around effective use of a foam roller are due to a number of factors. It is often very hard to treat tissues in a relaxed state when using a foam roller. Also, the size and shape of the foam roller effects which tissues one can access for treatment. Sometimes it is possible to use a massage ball in such situations, and much like a foam roller. Foam roller SMR often means holding the body in a set position while trying to apply the method. Holding the body in a set position effects tissue tension and how one applies the technique (angles). Attempting to foam roller the back, neck, shoulders or ITB are typically more painful than useful.
Foam rollers can work well on larger muscles and tissues, such as the legs. The petrissage and stripping massage techniques are always performed towards the heart. This is because veins have small one-way gates and the technique pushes blood through the gates and not against them. Hence one should perform foam rolling in a similar manner and only apply pressure in one direction. This usually means the foam roller is coming towards the body as the limb is moving away. Although, some people use foam rollers to treat myofascial trigger points (MTrP’s), this is usually uncomfortable and not very effective. Rolling backwards and forwards over trigger points can just irritate tissues and it is better to use another type of SMR technique if possible. A massage ball or trigger point therapy (TPT) tool may work better in such cases.