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Townsville Physio Blog

Foam rolling – is it worth the pain?

There has been an explosion of foam rollers into the market over recent years, and I am sure that you have a family member touting their benefits. BUT, are they really worthy all that pain and discomfort? Well there has been numerous studies of late investigating the value of the foam roller use over the last decade with mixed results. An extensive literature review by Schroeder & Best (2015) examined the current evidence for the use of foam roller self-myofascial release (SMR) techniques highlighted mixed results on pre-exercise, maintenance and recovery. Results showed that there was benefit increased range of motion across most of the studies, and increased function physical testing across several studies and a notable decrease in reported post exercise muscular soreness. However, most importantly, no negative effects were observed throughout the literature review. “How long do I have to do this for?!” - The most common question yelled at me whilst patients are enjoying their first roller experience. Unfortunately, the jury is out. However, the good news is that across all of the articles reviewed, the most consistent timing appeared to be blocks of 1 minute x 3 repetitions (with 30 second breaks in between). On the studies whose protocols involved sessions routines of under 30 seconds and over 10 minutes showed decreased benefits in comparison. This timing instruction might not be perfect just yet, but it’s a start. So, the takeaway message is that there is benefits in exercise performance and recovery, with no negative impacts despite the initial pain, for a routine that only needs to last for 3 minutes. So maybe don’t give up on that roller just yet and slowly introduce it into your pre-exercise and recovery sessions to help you stay active and healthier for longer. References:Schroeder, A., & Best, T. (2015). Is Self Myofascial Release an Effective Preexercise and Recovery Strategy? A Literature Review. Current Sports Medicine Reports, 14(3), 200-208.

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Pain

Pain is a truly interesting concept. Like emotions, it is purely individual to a person. It can be hard to describe at times and everyone will have a unique experience, even if they have a similar injury. But, why is that? There have been great leaps forward in pain science over the last decade and we are beginning to understand its mechanisms more than ever. We now know that pain is signal that is designed to alert our bodies to potential tissue damage but there is no direct link to the amount of pain we can experience to the amount of damage that may occur. Imagine a papercut. It is extremely painful but there is only minor damage to your body, but you can also break bones and not experience any significant pain initially. Our bodies are constantly deciphering information to assess if it could harm us and how we each experience pain is controlled by several factors. Our body structures, immune systems, environments and even our emotions contrite to the pain experience. There are even conditions which you can develop where you experience quite a lot of pain from something that shouldn’t normally cause pain. So next time you roll your ankle or feel a “twinge” in your back, just remember that you may not have hurt yourself as bad as you may think. Also, if you have been dealing with an area of pain for a long time, popping pills and resting on the couch can be doing you more harm then good! So, make an appointment with one of our great Physio’s to find how to better manage your pain and get back to doing the things you love.

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