• Claire Smith

Is Foam Rolling Beneficial

A lot of my clients complain about how much foam rolling hurts and if it is really doing anything. It’s an easy part of the workout to skip but it is so important to do. Hopefully after having a read through this it will give you more information on the benefits and the pain will be worth it.

The benefits of foam rolling could range from warming up your muscles to actually helping you recover faster after a workout.

Should I foam roll before or after a workout?

People say that they feel less fatigued after their workout when they foam roll as part of their warm up and it is known that it takes less effort for a muscle to produce a given force. Meanwhile foam rolling after a workout can help reduce delayed onset muscle soreness, and therefore boost your performance in later workouts.

What are the benefits of foam rolling?

  • Foam rolling can help reduce pain and muscle soreness. Massaging the muscles increases blood flow and oxygen to the tissue, helping the natural healing process.

  • It helps with flexibility. Foam rolling, together with stretching and rehabilitation, can help lengthen your muscles. 

  • It helps you to manage stress. Stress-related tight spots can lead to discomfort, which can impact on your sleep. Once the tension is reduced, you might find yourself sleeping a whole lot better! 

  • It can help you to have an increased range of motion. Foam rolling helps to stretch and lengthen muscles, so you have a better range of movement. 

  • It can help to prevent common injuries. Tight muscles can be more prone to injury, so self-release of muscles and fascia can help loosen everything up and increase your overall performance. 

  • Foam rolling may help to reduce cellulite, as the increased blood flow can help your body’s natural detoxification processes. 

Is Foam Rolling Beneficial?

How does foam rolling actually work?

Have you ever noticed a thin, almost see through layer of tissue coating your chicken breast? Think of this as fascia surrounding every muscle fibre, every organ, every nerve fibre, every bone in the human body. Within the muscle, this fascia exists in multiple layers. First, it wraps around every individual muscle fibre or cell. Then, it wraps around bundles of muscle fibres, called fasciculi. Lastly, it wraps around the entire muscle body. Together, these layers of fascia, apart from helping to give muscle its shape, attach to tendons and bones to help you pull, push, squat, run, bike, whatever it is you want to do. On its own muscle fascia is pretty solid and not very pliable. That could theoretically limit range of motion, or give you that feeling of stiff, tight muscles. That’s especially true if the fibres that make up your muscle fascia form what’s called “adhesions” or “trigger points. Ideally, all of these fibres are sliding by each other with ease as you move, but sometimes these fibres can get stuck together. Experts say that these tangles in fascia can form for a variety of reasons such as muscle injury, inactivity, disease, inflammation, or trauma. For whatever reason, the tissue binds to each other, loses elasticity, and forms taut bands of tissue that can be painful. Muscle fascia, when it is moved it becomes more compliant and malleable. So, applying pressure and moving the fascia, even microscopically, could allow the fascia, and therefore the muscles, to separate, relax, and become more flexible.

How to get the best out of foam rolling?

Stick to your glutes, quads, hamstrings, calves, traps, and lats. You can lightly roll the meat of your shoulders, but should avoid the actual joint. Same with your arms and elbows. For best results, adher to a near-daily rolling strategy. After all, just like all things exercise, you have to be consistent to get the best results. Aim to roll before and after workouts, or just any time you’re feeling tight. Spend 30 seconds on each spot you want to roll. At the end of the day, remember that just like any other workout recovery method, foam rolling should be used as a tool to help you feel better during and after workouts. That means that you can and should tweak your rolling habits to whatever works best for you. So don’t stress about sticking to a strict schedule—start with rolling when you feel like you need it or simply when you have time, and take it from there depending on what feels right.


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©2017 by Claire Smith Fitness. 

Dronfield, United Kingdom