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Physio and Foam Rolling

Physio & Foam Rolling: Accelerate Your Shoulder Recovery At Home

Battling a shoulder injury? Our shoulders are complex joints that need proactive care when they’re injured in order to make a full recovery, getting back to full strength and function. While many people know that their physio should be the first port of call for a shoulder injury because of the specialised hands-on care they provide, there’s another powerful tool that physios use – and you should be using at home to optimise your recovery: your foam roller.

Here’s how you can use your foam roller and other physio-recommended tools to progress your recovery at home, prevent the problem from returning in the future, and how you can get your hands on a foam roller to streamline your progress without the full upfront costs.

Foam Rolling: How & Why?

While you may think of a foam roller as a cruel, pain-causing device, physiologically speaking, it’s anything but. Foam rollers work to release muscle and tissue tightness, working on the ‘knots’ and trigger points that you know as the ‘sore spots’. When tightness is present in muscles, your body moves in a restricted and suboptimal way, which can often lead to muscle imbalances while hindering your recovery progress.

When it comes to shoulder injuries, the goal of foam rolling is to relax and promote the mobility of the muscles attaching to the shoulder blade. This means improved freedom of movement and stability of the shoulder as we move and raise our arm, without having restrictions cause you problems. You can also use the foam roller on your thoracic spine to improve the movement in this area, or on the pecs, which in turn help free the movement around the shoulder.

Tip: When you know how, foam rollers can also be used to help with strengthening. Your physio can guide you through the best ways to do this given your specific shoulder injury during your appointment. There’s more to the foam roller than meets the eye!

Alternative: The Spikey Ball

The spikey ball – the small, often-coloured ball with firm spikes protruding from it – is another effective way to help with reducing muscle tension and tightness, improving blood flow to the area, working on knots and trigger points, and supporting your shoulder recovery. Like the foam roller, it leverages your body weight. You lay on the ball or place it between you and a wall when standing, then perform specific movements that target the right areas as instructed by your physio.

Which Shoulder Injuries Can Foam Rolling Help With?

Foam rolling can be helpful for both the recovery stage of an injury, as well as for managing muscle tension and tightness to reduce the likelihood of your injury recurring in the future. Overall, it’s a great tool to help you look after your health – when used appropriately. 

It’s essential to use your foam roller carefully and as instructed by your physio, which usually means not directly over your injury. Foam rolling is used with great success as part of the treatment plan for a: 

Rotator cuff injury

The rotator cuff is a group of muscles surrounding the shoulder blade that is constantly being used when you move your arm. Foam rolling the muscles and tissues surrounding the rotator cuff – and the cuff itself once the injury has healed, will help maintain healthy function of the cuff, supporting your recovery. 

Shoulder impingement

A shoulder impingement occurs when the shoulder blade pinches or compresses the rotator cuff beneath, leading to irritation and inflammation. Foam rolling can help in a number of ways, including helping with thoracic extension, which has shown in studies to have superior results when incorporated as part of the overall treatment for shoulder impingement.

Frozen shoulder

Otherwise known as adhesive capsulitis, a frozen shoulder describes the thickening of the shoulder joint and the formation of adhesions to the point where the shoulder becomes difficult to move. Foam rolling helps by improving the range of motion at the joint, which works by helping break up blockages and improving blood flow to the area.

AC joint sprain

Your AC joint is formed by ligaments that connect your shoulder blade and collar bone. When these ligaments are sprained, often by a fall or other sudden injury, pain and inflammation occur. Foam rolling can be beneficial for the muscles and tissues surrounding the joint that may be affected as a result of the injury, helping to keep them moving well without restrictions that may interfere with AC joint recovery.

Foam Rolling Is One Part Of A Comprehensive Plan

Shoulder injuries are not a problem to take lightly. They must be professionally assessed by your physio to understand the cause of the problem, any weakness or tightness that is contributing to the issue, and any barriers to an effective recovery. It is from here that foam rollers can start to be used, ensuring they are working safely towards your recovery, and not aggravating any other existing issues you may have. Your physio will prescribe complementary treatment components, which may include hands-on therapies and other techniques.

Foam Roll Your Way To A Pain-Free Shoulder – Without The Upfront Cost

While a foam roller is a fantastic tool for recovery and injury prevention, it’s not always affordable – especially when the injury is sudden and unexpected. With 39% of New Zealanders delaying medical appointments due to cost, the cost barrier to recovery is a very real issue – for both the purchase of recovery tools as well as the physio appointment cost.

This is why many physios across New Zealand are now offering an easier way to pay for your care via HealthNow – a Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) platform designed specifically for healthcare. Choosing to pay via the HealthNow app means that those needing physio care and recovery tools can now split the total cost into multiple payments over a maximum of six weeks, with absolutely no fees or interest.

Unlike other BNPL services, HealthNow meets a higher level of regulatory compliance to ensure that it operates with social responsibility, given its role in the health sector. While health consumers split their bill and delay the full upfront cost, physios get paid in full on the day by HealthNow, making it a win-win for the health industry.

Ready To Get Rolling?

Registering for HealthNow is free and easy – and you can quickly start using it to access physio services, doctors visits, pick up pharmacy medications – and much more. To start using HealthNow and claim your $10 credit when you first create an account, Sign up here . You can also check out HealthNow’s full benefits and features, including a health wallet to store funds set aside for health services that can be contributed to by others including your employer. 

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