Can Foam Rollers Help Relieve Muscle Pain?

Wall Street Journal—September 8, 2014

The Claim: Rolling your body over foam cylinders can improve flexibility, reduce post-workout soreness, prevent sports injuries and even alleviate chronic pain.

The Verdict: Foam-roller therapy at home, often called self-myofascial release, has been shown in several small recent studies to improve range of motion in the knee and hip, and to ease muscle soreness after exercise. But it isn't yet known if foam rolling provides any long-term benefit.

Myofascial release comes from a theory that pressure from the rollers breaks up tight spots in muscles and the connective tissue that surrounds them, called fascia. While scientific research is in the early stages, the technique, which takes as little as a minute or two per muscle group, has won over some sports-medicine physicians.

"I love foam rolling and most of my patients do it," says Jordan D. Metzl, a sports medicine physician at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. Dr. Metzl, who has no link to any companies that sell rollers, says he recommends it both as a regular routine for athletes and as part of a rehabilitation regimen for injuries.

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