Mini Marathon Recovery: Is Foam Rolling a fad or a necessity?

Ben Doyle of PlatinumPhysio explains the use and benefits of the Foam Roller

If you completed the mini marathon yesterday firstly congratulations, secondly, we at Platinum Physiotherapy hope that our prehab blog post was beneficially in your final days of preparation. If like many of the other competitors you are now considering building on your success and completing a half or full marathon later in the year please continue to follow our prehab guidelines.

If on the other hand you are one of the thousands of participants whose sole goal was to complete the mini marathon you may be a little tender and sore today. So is the answer to that post event soreness foam rolling or is foam rolling a fad?

Foam Rolling

If you are regular gym goer or have had previous injury you may have a foam roller somewhere in the house collecting dust. I try to incorporate foam roller exercises into most of my patient management programmes, and use it regularly with my intercounty football and hurling players to avoid injuries and decrease their reliance on physiotherapy. I insist on all my athletes having their own foam roller at every training session and game.

In essence, a foam roller is like your own personal masseuse and is simply a round cylinder of foam that comes in different firmness and lengths. It can be used to improve postural awareness, lengthen Fascia and muscles to prevent an accumulation of muscular/fascial tension and tightness, thus preventing injury occurrence. However, the issue I often face with the non-athletic population of patients is the initial pain/discomfort that is associated with foam rolling.

he truth of the matter is discomfort whilst foam rolling is necessary just like a deep soft tissue massage. However, there are different grades of foam rollers which are suitable for novice and more experienced athletes.

Foam rolling should always be uncomfortable but never excruciating

If you have never used a foam roller before, make sure you purchase a softer roller made exclusively with a foam material and get your physiotherapist to demonstrate the correct technique. The more experienced athletes can progress onto rollers which have a harder foam or plastic exterior such as the VARI Roller or the Rhino Roller.

For our more experienced athletes and novice runners who are looking to increase their distances from the mini marathon to half or full marathons foam rolling is essential but you can also benefit from making sports massage therapy a part of your training programme.

Sports Massage

Incorporating Sports Massage as a part of your training programme offers a range of benefits including faster recovery, injury prevention and reduced muscle stiffness and soreness to allow you to train harder and more often. Here at Platinum Physiotherapy we shall be opening specialist massage therapy clinics over the coming weeks.

Keep a look out for our next blog post as it will outline the benefits of massage therapy for athletes and the non-athletic person who spends numerous hours each day at the computer desk.

Ben Doyle is a Specialist Neuromusculoskeletal Chartered Physiotherapist & Clinical Lead at Platinum Physiotherapy.