A rolling stick and a foam roller are both used for muscle massage and Myofascial release. Massage results in smoother muscle movement and the release of adhesions in the fascia, (fascia is the connective tissue that wraps around the muscles). Sticks and rollers are used to facilitate relaxation of trigger points or ‘knots’ in the muscle that are small sections of the muscle fiber that are in a contracted state and don’t release. Stretching helps but it doesn’t completely relax these tight spots. Even if you are not injured, sticks and rollers can be used to help prevent muscle tightness problems and allow freer range of motion.
The pressure applied on the body with both these tools is controlled by the individual using them. They are useful for both pre-workout to loosen up the muscles as well as post-workout during your warm down in conjunction with your stretching to help the muscles start their repair. It doesn’t take long to use either tool and the results are well worth the investment in time and money. It is recommended to drink plenty of water after using the rollers to help flush the muscles out the same as you would after a massage.
I find the firmer density models of the foam roller allows for easier release of the muscle knots and works better on the I.T. band. Someone using a foam roller for the first time would find the softer models easier to handle as the pressure can be uncomfortable when you are not used to rolling with them. Foam rollers are a little more awkward to use on smaller muscles and to position on the adductor muscles located in the inner thigh. When using a foam roller it is important to keep good posture as you support your body weight the same as you would when exercising. The bulkiness of the rollers makes it more suited to use at home or in the gym.
The ‘addaday+’® stick roller and their assortment of products have knobby rollers that get deeper into the muscles and allow for cross-fiber movement to ‘un-stick’ muscle fibers. It is also more portable than the foam rollers and can be taken along with you in your gym bag. The stick is also easier to use since you don’t have to support and balance your body weight while using it. A daily massage with these sticks works wonders on those muscles that you expect performance from during your activity.
If you have an injury that you are working on with these tools, work the sore muscle area plus the attachment points of those muscles. The movements of the rollers should be slow and take time on the areas that need it most, focusing in on a specific sore spot for 20 seconds. Try to relax the muscle you are working on, breath normally without holding your breath. Avoid direct rolling over bone and the spine in the lower back and instead work the muscles around these areas.
If you have a muscle that is unresponsive to these tools or want more precise treatment then make an appointment with a registered massage therapist to do their magic and get you active again.