Shane’s Physio tip series Part 1 (Foam Rolling and Release Techniques)



Welcome to the first part of my 8 tips blog on injury prevention and general sports performance. This is here to help you reduce your risk of injury during your sporting season, give you some food for thought on how to do this and also give you some information regarding general sports performance.

My name is Shane Finn, a physiotherapist working with Willis Street Physio and based here at Mauri Ora, the University’s Health Centre. I have worked with elite level athletes across a wide range of sports from NFL, NBA, MLB, GAA and soccer to name a few. The aim of this blog is to share with you my thoughts and opinions related to physiotherapy and strength and conditioning as well as give you up to date evidence based information in these areas.

So foam rolling, the new greatest injury prevention craze which has engulfed the world of sport. But what does it even do? Does it work?? How does it work??? Is it just a sick joke invented by physios to inflict pain on us all????


Foam rolling, myofascial release and massage have been at the height of discussion over the past few years. The evidence in the area is limited to say the least and finding good research to back up claims that it works is difficult. According to some research it has been proven to increase range of motion in joints by up to 12% after one minute of work. However this is only short lived and not maintained. From what I can interpret, the theory is that we are potentially reducing some protective tone in our muscles which has built up due to increased loads or as a result of an injury and this allows for easier movement of the joint and increased range, ultimately improving performance. But is it the ultimate injury prevention tool we sometimes are told? No. That’s my simple answer. It is a component to injury prevention, a piece to the puzzle, a very large puzzle!

I use it regularly in clinic but it is not going to cure or prevent injuries on its own. If it helps you, use it but do not solely depend on it. Spend no more than 2-3 minutes on each muscle group at a time and ideally perform it prior to exercise, just to help you prepare for the activity you are about to perform. I would recommend having 3-4 rolling out sessions a week to see the benefits.

There is new evidence surfacing at the minute that strength training can actually improve flexibility and lots of strong evidence to support being functionally strong with a reduced risk of injury. In many cases the cause of muscle tightness is actually muscle weakness. Improving your strength is a better overall option to improve those tight hammys and calves!

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