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Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Do foam rollers work for aches and pains?

Foam rollers have become a popular gym (and home) accessory these days. They are lightweight, portable, and come in a variety of colors and textures. But what are they for? And do they really work?

These rollers are designed to literally "roll away" minor aches and pains, after a workout or other strenuous activity, producing a massage-like effect if done properly. They are most commonly used on the hips, quads, back and calves.

Recent studies on the effectiveness of rollers determined that they:
  • can help increase range of motion
  • promote quicker muscle recovery after exercise
Although they cannot completely replicate the benefits of actual massage therapy, here are some tips to get the most relief from your roll:
  1. Start with a slow roll across the muscle, moving every one to two seconds, until you reach a tender spot. 
  2. Hold the roller in place for about 20 to 30 seconds until you feel the tension or pain release.
  3. Follow up your roll with some light movement or stretching to the affected area/muscle.  
Some fitness experts swear by rolling both before and after each workout to help prevent pain. Other people use foam rollers simply for stress relief. 

Check with your doctor before using a roller if you have a serious medical condition such as arthritis or osteoporosis. And make sure that you are rolling with the right intensity - rolling too aggressively could lead to injury.

If you are experiencing any type of chronic or severe pain, foam rollers may not be adequate and you should see a doctor.

(Adapted from Shots Health News from NPR)

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