Sciatica is a very misunderstood neurological condition associated with back pain. In order to improve that understanding it’s essential to have knowledge of the sciatic nerve itself.
Pain is defined as ‘an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage’. The definition itself demonstrates the multifactorial nature of our pain experience that includes physical health, genetics, beliefs and attitudes, work, family and relationships.
As massage therapists we often suggest that you go away and use a foam roller as part of your aftercare advice.
Using the foam roller correctly can make the effects of your massage last longer, delaying the build-up of tension between massage treatments, especially if you’re training hard or have a lifestyle which can be counter-productive to good posture. This includes having a desk-based job.
Massage has more benefits and is more effective long-term than using the foam roller as you would expect from a focused treatment by a trained professional. However, the foam roller is a useful piece of equipment to use on a regular basis, particularly when combined with stretching exercises.
Some areas would benefit from using the foam roller, others would benefit more from stretching exercises. This is where your therapist can help advise you, and let you know about the correct use of the foam roller.
We do get a lot of people asking if foam rolling “actually works”. Let’s start by looking at the reported benefits of both.
So there are more benefits to massage, however there are several similarities between the two which means using a foam roller as a part of your overall health routine can be helpful.
One of the biggest differences is the time you would need to spend on your foam roller to get the same results as a massage. Let’s just say it would take a while!
Also trying to foam roll your quads for 10 mins takes a bit of effort to support yourself and isn’t quite as enjoyable as someone doing it for you. Let us do all the hard work for you to gain those big results. 😉
Will using the foam roller hurt?
It can do, but it depends on what you classify as pain vs discomfort. People have a love/hate relationship with their foam roller! You use your body weight with the foam roller so, although it can hurt, you can control it (a bit!).
You don't need to spend much time using the foam roller. 5-10 minutes a day is sufficient, as long as you use it correctly and regularly.
We think the benefits of doing foam rolling outweigh not making it part of your routine, but ensure that you are using it correctly or you could risk irritating or injuring your body further.
So we feel that yes, foam rolling can have similar effects as massage, but the results are not as concentrated. Use your roller as a part of your after care advice between massages and after training sessions.
Need more advice?
If you need any more information about using the foam roller correctly, exercises to try, or if you want to road test one please speak to one of our therapists. We also have a number of foam rollers available to purchase.
What is a knot?
Muscle fibres run in all different directions within the muscles of our body. Muscles are layered on top of each other, and all being good, when these fibres are in good shape and working together this means we are flexible.
However, sitting at a desk too long or being dehydrated can mean we lose that flexibility as the fibres become compromised. Knots occur when muscle fibres become stuck together due to injury or damage.
Poor posture can lead to damaged fibres as the fibres become overloaded or conversely they can switch off.
What can I do about muscle knots?
Muscle ‘knots’ are incredibly common but common doesn’t mean they're a good thing. The good news... there are plenty of things you can do:
1. Massage - the friction will help separate the fibres, re align the fibres and restore balance
2. Hydrate and eat well - good nutrition will keep the muscle fibres healthy
3. Exercise - brings oxygen and nutrients to the muscles
4. Stretch regularly - restore mobilty to tight muscle fibres
5. Take breaks and move - if you are sat at a desk for long periods of time or any static posture for a long time try to move as much as you can.
Finally, also importantly, take time to RELAX.
The connect between the mind body is very strong, one affects the other so taking time to relax is very important. Listen to your body and time so time out when it’s needed.