In this episode of Omega Sports Move More Podcast, we talk about Performance and recovery, foam rollers and massage guns. We’re going to dive into these worlds and see how to use them, why to use them and we’ll answer the question of “do you need your own?”
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For those who don’t know, foam rollers are like dowels. Imagine a dough roller covered with foam. They come in different densities and colors because we all like colors. Dr. Jablonka prefers black as it goes with everything.
These foam rollers, as mentioned before, come in different densities; some are soft, and some are rock solid. Some even come with a vibration function.
When do you do it, and why do you do it?
When it comes to rolling out, it’s important to understand that we only affect the muscles that are around the superficial layer. What do we consider the superficial layer? The most present layer – the one you can feel and touch. Or as Dr. Jablonka calls them, the “mirror muscles,” because they are the muscles you see when you look at yourself in the mirror. They are the muscles that move your body. When it comes to foam rolling, they are the muscles that you can affect the most. We can’t really get into the deeper muscles, because there’s much more pressure needed, so the biggest effort is going to be in the superficial muscles.
It’s also important to understand that we can really affect the muscle fibers, but we’re not doing a whole lot for what’s called “the fascia,” which is the layering over the muscle, and it takes over 2000lbs. of pressure to deform.
Does Dr. Jablonka use foam rollers in his daily practice? Yes. Not for a very long time, though, as most clients have previous experiences and know what to do in terms of warming up before Dr. Jablonka starts his procedure. On average, Dr. Jablonka uses the foam roller for about 5 minutes and continues with his procedure.
Do foam rollers work?
Dr. Jablonka asks a few counterquestions: define “work,” what do you want to work? What’s your goal? Why do you have a foam roller? Why do you want to take this gun to your body?
There was a study on the effects of foam rolling on DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) conducted by the Journal of Athletic Training. DOMs is the muscle soreness that presents itself usually 24-72 hours after exercise. It’s a burn or pain. The researchers took 8 healthy subjects and made them do 10 sets of 10 reps of back squat. After that, they followed up with either not foam rolling for one control group, and about 20 minutes of foam rolling for the other control group, then 24 hours. Then again 48 hours post-exercise. What they found out is that foam rollers were effective.
There was a meta-study of 21 studies that also showed foam rolling can help with flexibility.
Dr. Jablonka uses the foam roller right after an exercise, then again the day after, and he found out that muscle soreness did not affect him as bad as it usually does. If you can minimize pain with a foam roller to minimalize soreness, why not use it? It’s a relatively inexpensive fix to helping muscle soreness.
Massage guns are long cylinders with an attached vibrating head. They may come with a selection of attachments and have various settings. This device sends waves to superficial parts of the muscles. They claim to offer the benefits of a massage without actually seeing a massage therapist. They are popular with athletes.
Do massage guns work?
Research in the Sports, Science and Medicine Journal looked at massage guns effects on the plantarflexion muscle range, motion and performance (the calf). Contrary to popular belief as to what massage guns do, this study concluded that it did not help with maximum voluntary contraction, which means that it did not help with force production. This means that it does not make you stronger (shocker!).
It did, however, go on to say that just 5 minutes of percussion therapy helped with dorsiflexion. It can help increase your range of motion and this is important for running. This may help prevent strains!
Should I get a foam roller or massage gun?
As far as recovery tools go, Dr. Jablonka would most probably put more stock into the foam roller.
For starters, price. You can basically make your own and use it as a foam roller (to an extent). You can use a barbell, a stick, a kettlebell, really anything as long as it’s solid. Your body doesn’t really know the difference between what’s a foam roller and what’s a branch. Rather, it responds to pressure and stimulus.
Dr. Jablonka goes on to say that the foam roller would probably be the best as far as pre and post-exercise since it will help with DOMS, and it is super simple to do. It does not take that much time.
Do it to help with pain! When you’re not in pain, you’re going to do stuff better. You’re going to squat heavier, run longer and your work capacity is going to increase because nothing is holding you back. If you can knock pain out, your performance is going to grow exponentially.
Remember that all of these points and topics are based solely on Dr. Scott Jablonka, performance physical therapist. He is better known in the social media world as @carolina_movement_doc. These opinions are not the opinions of Omega Sports, these are Dr. Jablonka’s and his only. If you have anything that you want Dr. Jablonka to talk about, reach out to
him on Facebook or Instagram.