FoamRoll.net is dedicated to the art and science of foam rolling, which is a form of self-myofascial release therapy. This technique has been used by athletes, physical therapists, yoga instructors, and dancers around the world for years; now it’s now beginning to become quite popular in home use. But what is all the hype really about? Why are people rolling around on top of those goofy-looking pool noodles? Read on to find out.
What is Foam Rolling?
A foam roller is a cylindrical object usually made of a high density foam. Some foam rollers nowadays are hollow tubes, like a PVC pipe, with foam on the outside. You can even use a large PVC pipe, without any foam on the outside! Some rollers will just be smooth foam, while others have “teeth”. The latter will almost resemble the tire of an off-road truck, and the notches will dig deep into the fascia to activate those hard-to-reach muscles. Foam rollers come in varying densities, and their lengths vary from 6 inches up to 36 inches.
Foam rolling then, at its most basic, is using a foam roller on sore, cramped, or knotted muscles to release tension. According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine, using a foam roller can deliver improvements in flexibility, muscle recovery, movement efficiency, inhibiting overactive muscles, and pain reduction with just minutes of application. To use a foam roller you just lie down on top of the foam, and slowly roll back and forth. The downward pressure from your body weight will force the foam into your muscles, while the rolling action will slowly massage away the knots.
When you use a foam roller you’ll quickly find that certain areas or muscle groups are more tender than others, especially in muscles that have recently been exercises. These are called trigger points. Once you’ve identified a trigger point, use the foam roller to maintain pressure on that trigger point for 20-30 seconds. You can roll gently back and forth over the trigger point during this time. This will inhibit the overactive muscle and improve soft tissue extensibility. It sounds much more complicated than it really is!
What Can I Use a Foam Roller On?
You can use a foam roller to massage just about any large muscle group on your body, including the hamstrings, quads, glutes, calves, back, and neck. If you’ve never tried one before, check out our massive list of foam rolling exercises where we’ve provided multiple rolling exercises for each of the large muscle groups. These exercises really allow you to focus on your trigger points and release the tension. We guarantee, once you try some of our exercises, you’ll be glad you did!
Does Foam Rolling Hurt?
You bet your gluteus maximus it does! Haha! Yes, foam rolling can be pretty painful, especially when you first start out. Focus on these painful spots, or trigger points, for 20-30 seconds…but not too long! A common mistake with foam rolling is to over-do it on the trigger points. You want to work them, but not too much. After foam rolling for a week or two, these tender points should decrease.
Evidence Supporting Foam Rolling
Despite our best intentions as foam rolling zealots, there are people our there who aren’t drinking the foam rolling koolaid. There are a number of physical fitness websites out there that state that foam rolling doesn’t have sufficient clinical testing. While it’s true that there isn’t a large number of tests on the effects of foam rolling, there is still a decent amount. We actually compiled a number of published studies about the benefits of foam rolling. The fact of the matter is that most sites or blogs stating “insufficient proof” are often behind the times. If you look at that posting’s timestamp, it’s probably from 2012 or 2013. The science behind foam rolling is still emerging, and our research found a number of positive studies from 2014 and 2015. Don’t just take the naysayers word for it, check out our compilation of the studies and decide for yourself.
Our website contains dozens of foam rolling exercises, stretches, and techniques. We have the most comprehensive collection of foam rolling videos and tutorials available online. We are offering all of these resources for free to our visitors, because we believe that a pain-free life is a fundamental right.