Walk into any fitness club, CrossFit, or athlete’s home and you are likely to see at least one if not multiple self-care tools. Foams rollers, sticks, and sports balls of varying sizes can all be used to release tension throughout the body, increase circulation, and keep you in the game longer. Are there possible negative effects to self-rolling? Too much of a good thing can lead to negative effects. Overdosing is a potential risk when it comes to the intensity and duration of your self-rolling program. Mashing an area for prolonged periods or with too much aggression can result in an increase in scar tissue and delayed healing which can last 3-7 days. Muscle tests following over-dosing present weaker muscle firing and activation[1]. So how much should someone self-roll to gain optimum performance? It depends on your history, activity, current health, and the amount of self-rolling in the past.

Progressive self-rolling will allow your myofascial tissue to adapt over time allowing your nervous system to remain calm. Seeing users roll out an area while straining their neck and face in pain is not the best way to decrease body tension. Start with a softer tool such as a white foam roller and tennis ball and explore your problem areas with control. As a general rule, if you are not able to take slow deep breaths while rolling, then you are not attaining maximum benefit from your rolling. Begin with the Ultimate 6 detailed by Trigger Point Performance Therapy and then branch out from there to seek out other areas needing attention. Each individual’s self-rolling program should be different. Highlight your top 3 areas that need the most work and rotate through them daily spending 2-10 minutes on each area. Remember that the practice of self-rolling is meant to help restore your body, improve the length-tension relationship of your muscles, eliminate trigger points, and increase circulation to flush out toxins. Too much mashing or improper rolling techniques will only hinder your performance goals.

Take a read through my guest post on Self-Myofascial Release on The Fitness Handbook to see if it is safe for you.

[1] Frederick, Chris. “The Institute Blog”. Stretch to Win- Fascial Stretch Therapy 2014.