Have you ever exercised so hard that you became sore over the next few days? Then wondered if you might have done something wrong. Well don’t worry if this has happened, you are most likely experiencing a case of delayed onset muscle soreness or more commonly known as DOMS. DOMS will usually become noticeable in the next few days after exercising or physically exerting yourself. The good news is there is something beneficial that you can use to make DOMS not as big of an issue. This beneficial thing is called self-myofascial release (SMR), which can be practiced using items such as a foam roller. Applying pressure to your sore or tender muscles for a period of time is what foam rollers and other SMR tools are used for. It is not always the most comfortable thing to do while sore but in the end can be quite rewarding. SMR can have an even greater affect than just static stretching due to it directly targeting certain muscles in your body. Studies have shown that using a foam roller after exercising can actually help decrease muscle soreness as well as improving performance. So not only will it benefit you by helping you control your pain, but it will also play a role in seeing improvements.
Foam rolling is a self-myofascial release (SMR) technique that is used to help release muscle tightness or trigger points. It is a way to take the soreness of your muscles into your own hands, by using different SMR tools. The nice thing about it is that fact that you can apply SMR to yourself and it is a way to alleviate your own pain symptoms. The main idea is to target or pin point the muscle that is sore by applying pressure from anywhere between 30 to 90 seconds, or until you feel a release in the muscle. At that point you can find another muscle group and target the tender spots there and so on. A common mistake people have with foam rolling is the actual rolling portion of it. Foam rolling is not meant to be constantly rolling over tender muscles, it is actually meant to target and apply pressure in a single spot. This way you are feeling a release in the muscle and decreasing the symptoms of DOMS.
In the end though what can this foam roller do for you? Foam rolling has been claimed to help with correcting muscular imbalances, alleviating muscle soreness, relieving joint stress, improving neuromuscular efficiency and as well as range of motion (ROM) (Behm, Button, Drinkwater and MacDonald 2014). So not only will it help with decreasing the symptoms of muscle soreness but it will also help with a variety of other things in your life. Whether that be correcting your posture or reducing pain, there are many beneficial reasons to using a foam roller. It correlates with so much more than just muscle soreness and it’s unfortunate that not everyone has had the opportunity to experience it.
You may be wondering if this foam-rolling thing is a fad or is it actually something to look into. In reality there is so much science-based information behind SMR that it can be used for years and years to come and people will continue to experience these effects. It is not something that will just pass through and then never be spoken of again. When looking at what research has been used to justify this there are many studies out there that have tested if foam rolling should be used as a recovery tool after physical exercise. In one study it was deemed foam rolling was beneficial in improving dynamic movement, percent muscle activation, and both passive and dynamic range of motion (Behm 2014). This was based off of a series of tests primarily associated with DOMS. Therefore it is not something that just became popular over night, it is a tool that has been tested and has proven its success.
You may have started to notice that all of this information came from just the simple question if you “have ever exercise so hard that you became sore over the next few days?” The reason being is that foam rolling is a great tool to know how to use and is something a lot of people are not aware of. Even if it’s not just for decreasing the effects of DOMS, foam rollers can give so much more than just that. That is why it is not just a trend or a fad, it is scientifically proven to improve performance, range of motion, muscle tightness, etc. That is why it is becoming more well known and taking on a bigger role in the fitness industry. So if you are looking at being able to manage your own muscles soreness this could be a solution for you.
By: Katarina Annich
Behm, D. G., Button, D. C., Drinkwater, E. J., and MacDonald, G. Z. (2014). Foam rolling as a recovery tool after an intense bout of physical activity. Med Sci Sports Exerc, 46(1), 131-142