If you’re in doubt, it’s probably best to see a physiotherapist first. Massage is a maintenance and self care tool, but it might not get to the reason behind why you feel an area needs some attention. If an area feels stiff or sore, seeing the physio will allow them to assess and diagnose the issue, and figure out if massage is appropriate. Often people can jump into a massage a bit too early, and end up making their issue worse.
Once your issue is stable and safe, then asking your physio if you're ready to see a massage therapist can really help with longer term maintenance. It’s often a nice reward for a job well done after a month of diligent rehab. As with all hands on treatment, remember that the massage is a cherry on the top of your plan, the bulk of your management should be homework!
Absolutely, there’s a reason that they are such a staple in so many different fitness environments. One big reason why massage, manipulation and other types of manual therapy get criticised is that you don’t want to build too much of a dependence on other people to manage your aches and niggles, so foam rollers allow you to take some of that power into your own hands.
Massage in some form or another has been used in sport and exercise at least as far back as the Roman gladiators, and for good reason. Self massage with foam rollers can be used to improve recovery times after workouts, to lengthen restricted muscles and even to copy the “cracking” or “pops” that you get to free up a stiff spine. Similar to other types of exercise kit, if you’re not already comfortable with foam rollers, make sure that you check in with a physiotherapist or good personal trainer to show you a few techniques before you bring them into your weekly routine.