Foam rolling vs Stretching. Is one better than the other? How our chiropractors can help.

Dandenong physiotherapy chiropractic neck pain spine health foam roller

Foam rolling vs Stretching? Should you do one before the other?

And why it is important to see a chiropractor if you are constantly finding your muscles to be tight and sore?

Read below to see how our chiropractors help people from Narre Warren, Hallam, Dandenong and Endeavour Hills with muscle pain.

Tight muscles causing pain? 

‘You need to get the foam roller out’- says your work colleague.

On the other hand, your family member swears by stretching to help keep the discomfort at bay.

But how do they differ? And which one should you turn to first?

Foam rolling

Foam rolling is a form of self massage that aims to address muscle hypertonicity and trigger points. It’s an increasingly popular part of most athletes and gym goers routines.

There are many different types of foam rollers, from the large cylindrical pieces of foam (most common), to the spikey variant and even more ball shaped apparatuses.

All place a focus on applying pressure to parts of your body to assist in returning musculature to a less hypertonic state and subsequently, promote normal function.


Stretching is an activity that aims to increase the length of muscles and tendons which shorten in a response to exercise, poor postures, lack of use and ageing.

Similarly, if a muscle is not used correctly to its full length, over a period of time it will shorten to adapt to its lack of use.

The old adage of use it or lose it holds true.

So, which one should you do first?


The best way to illustrate this is the rubber band analogy. 

Imagine if you had a rubber band that had a knot tied in the middle. 

Would it be easier to lengthen the rubber band with or without the tied knot?

That’s right, the rubber with no knot would be easier to stretch and lengthen.

This example translates perfectly to your musculoskeletal system too.

By using a foam roller to reduce muscular hypertonicity and address trigger points -> the ability to correctly lengthen the muscles with stretching improves.

By employing this two tiered approach to your muscle health, you will see improved flexibility and mobility in addition to less pain and a decreased risk of injury.


MOST IMPORTANTLY- is to determine and understand why the muscles are compensating in the first place. Muscular pain, soreness and tightness are often secondary conditions that arise from a primary structural shift.

A good analogy to explain this is your car. Think of the muscles as the tyres and structure as the alignment of those wheels.

If the wheel alignment of the car is off, the rate at which the tyres wear out increases.

You could keep continually replacing the tyres as they wear, or you could address the misalignment of the wheel that are aggravating and worsening the rate of wear.

This is when you should see the chiropractor.

Rather than constantly repairing damage, at Sims & Finn Chiropractic we focus on addressing the underlying foundation and help your spine reach normal structure. 

If you are tired of constantly patching the problem and you are looking for a long term solution, then our practice which serves the Narre Warren, Hallam, Dandenong and Endeavour Hills communities might be well suited for you.

Once the identified structural shift of the spine has been modified, we will teach you how to help keep it that way through customised recommendations designed for your spine, so that you can minimise reoccurrence.

For more effective and safe foam rolling, take note of the tips below:

  • Foam rollers are designed to influence muscles only. Do not roll over bones or joints; it will have no effect on these structures- aside from being incredibly uncomfortable.
  • Work the foam roller slowly and incrementally over your muscles until you find a sore spot, band or trigger point. Hold this position with a slight increase in pressure until you feel the discomfort reduce and the muscle relax. The held position should not exceed longer than 60 seconds.
  • If at any point you experience a severe or sharp pain, stop immediately! Foam rollers are designed to cause slight discomfort as they break up muscular adhesions and reduce hypertonicity (tightness) within the muscles.
  • Foam rollers are not designed to help with spinal pain. While they may be useful to help tight muscles either side of the spine, use on the spine could irritate and WORSEN your spinal health. If you are experiencing any spinal pain or discomfort, please make an appointment with one of our chiropractors to further assess your spinal health.

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