What are contraindications to foam rolling? I have seen in other articles pregnancy, hypertension and osteoporosis are contraindications. Can you explain why? Thanks!
There are many conditions that “may have” contra indicators. However, it comes back to observation, knowledge, lateral thinking and common sense. On a daily basis, I have clients who come to me with degeneration, disease or discomfort. The one rule I live by is to always work within my boundaries!! If I am unsure, I regress the client in movement or refer the client to a health professional for further diagnosis. My qualification as a trainer is to observe and assess movement. If I follow these guidelines, I am fulfilling my role as a trainer.
Let’s have a look at the three conditions you mentioned.
As we know, there are various causes and severities of hypertension, the majority of which are stress or lifestyle related. This widespread condition can often be improved with sensible diet changes, exercise and various types of eastern and western medication that your health professional can prescribe.
By simply allowing the body to move better and decreasing stress levels in the client, benefits can be gained. I like to look at the body as an integrated unit that has three major complexes (ankle, hip and thorax). We now know that if we can change one complex, it will have a global effect on the body.
Implementing the foam roller in a safe and comfortable manner, releasing the tension of the myofascial system at the ankle and then activating the stabilizing mechanism with mobilizers will help the thoracic spine’s efficiency in movement, improve breathing patterns, improve range of motion of the scapulae, improve head position and decrease cervical discomfort.
This being the case, hypertension could be improved or changed through using the foam roller and may not therefore be a contraindicator.
During pregnancy, the hormone relaxin is present in 10 times its normal concentration in the female body. Relaxin is good in the sense that its function - as you might guess from the name - is to relax the joints in the pelvis so the baby has room to pass through the birth canal. Unfortunately, relaxin also causes abnormal motion in many other joints of the body, contributing to inflammation and pain. For the inexperienced trainer, implementing the foam roller on pregnant clients could then in fact create more issues in the body and would not be advised.
Osteoporosis is a condition in which the bones become fragile and brittle, leading to a higher risk of fractures (breaks or cracks) than in normal bone.
Osteoporosis occurs when bones lose minerals such as calcium more quickly than the body can replace them, leading to a loss of bone thickness (bone mass or density). As a result, bones become thinner and less dense, so that even a minor bump or accident can cause serious fractures. These are known as fragility or minimal trauma fractures.
Any bone can be affected by osteoporosis, but the most common sites are bones in the hip, spine, wrist, ribs, pelvis and upper arm. Osteoporosis usually has no signs or symptoms until a fracture happens. This is why osteoporosis is often called the “silent disease.”
Use of the foam roller on this condition would be very limited. If anywhere, you could use a small diameter roller on the calf complex to help release myofascial tension throughout the body. Once again, then follow up with some mobilizers that would activate the stabilizing mechanisms, allowing the body to move and feel better.
I hope this has helped to answer your question.