Physio rollers are no longer a device solely used in physiotherapists' offices. Also known as foam rollers, a physio roller can be effectively used at home, at the gym, during yoga or a range of other classes.
This equipment is commonly used to alleviate pain and tightness in the muscles caused by physical exercise.
In technical terms, muscles have a soft tissue covering layer which are call fascia. The fascia is believed to have an impact on joint range of movement and flexibility, so when it is not adequately flexible or has scar tissue or adhesions, the body often experiences discomfort and pain.
To combat any issues caused by fascia, rollers are widely used as 'self-myofascial release', which works to increase flexibility and break down any scar tissue.
Many runners, for example, have to deal with iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS), which is one of the most common overuse injuries in athletes. With this problem, the iliotibial band, which runs from the outside of the hip down to the shin, becomes tight or inflamed. It's often enough to keep runners out of their shoes for days, weeks, or sometimes longer.
With a mixture of rest and stretches, rollers are often used to alleviate the symptoms of ITBS.
A 2012 article in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research showed the results of a study on self-myofascial release with a foam roller and found that the tool improved the range of movement in the quadriceps muscles without impairing muscular performance.
Use of the roller depends on the body and the purpose.
It can simply be a tool for use on a range of muscle groups in order to release tight muscles or help to improve range of motion.
Since use of a foam roller is akin to stretching, exercises can be completed three times daily, but the frequency of use is completely up to the user. However, if a foam roller is recommended by a physiotherapist, their professional advice should always be followed. For many, this may only be as often as once every other day until pain or tightness is alleviated.
For exercises with a physio roller at home or the gym, try out the Trigger Point series of rollers, specially designed to enable you to roll out different parts of the body and improve blood flow.