Foam rolling, tennis balls and self massage: Witchcraft or science?

A whole industry has now sprung up around the sale of various "foam rollers", purporting to be very effective in the relief of pain and for general sporting well-being.

A lot of people, me included, have used tennis balls, especially to "roll out" the plantar fascia, heck, in a stroke of marketing genius, I even had my practice logo, phone number, and address embossed on about 1000 tennis balls!

And I have truly believed in the benefits of this, just as I have believed in the benefits of massage therapy and especially trigger point therapy.

However, I am really hard pressed to point you in the direction of any hard evidence to support the use of any of these modalities (with the exception of massage therapy - there is an emerging body of evidence that sports massage is an effective tool in optimising athletic performance) in the scientific literature.

Does that mean they don't work?

Nope, but it does mean I have to dig a bit deeper to give you a better idea of if to use, when to use, and most importantly, what to say!

Simon Bartold
Director of Bartold Clinical