If you’ve been going to the gym for a decent amount of time you have either seen someone foam rolling or tried it out yourself.
In this quick read we’ll go over what exactly foam rolling achieves and how to apply it to our training.
What does foam rolling do?
Foam rolling produces an acute increase in joint range of motion (ROM) without increasing or decreasing muscle performance.(1)(3)
Foam rolling reduces perceived pain as well as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).(1)(4)
How do I use foam rolling to improve my mobility and joint ROM?
Foam rolling pre training can be an effective tool to improve joint ROM without compromising strength and power versus long duration stretching (>60s), which can have a negative effect on both strength and power.(2)
If you are someone who is struggling to get into a position that is required for your sport then you may benefit from foam rolling.
It is recommended to perform foam rolling for 30-60 seconds with 2-3 sets for each muscle group that is needed.(1) Keep the pressure light to moderate and use a high density foam roller if available. Then perform dynamic movements and progress them to movements you will be performing in training.
Scenario: trouble with hitting depth in squats due to ankle dorsiflexion restriction.
What the warm up will look like:
Foam rolling gastrocnemius and soleus (entire back side of lower leg) for 2 sets of 30 seconds.
Deep goblet squat holds for 10-15 reps.
Build up to your working sets of squats.
How do I use foam rolling to reduce muscle soreness?
Foam rolling post workout can be effectively used reduce DOMS.(4)
If you go through an intensive training session and are looking to get some extra recovery in before your session or just be less sore then you may benefit from foam rolling post workout.
Scenario: just completed first squat day after a long hiatus.
What foam rolling may look like post training:
Use the protocol mentioned above (30-60 seconds with 2-3 sets) on the quadriceps, adductors, hamstrings, and glutes post training session.
Cheatham, S. W., Kolber, M. J., Cain, M., & Lee, M. (2015). THE EFFECTS OF SELF-MYOFASCIAL RELEASE USING A FOAM ROLL OR ROLLER MASSAGER ON JOINT RANGE OF MOTION, MUSCLE RECOVERY, AND PERFORMANCE: A SYSTEMATIC REVIEW. International journal of sports physical therapy, 10(6), 827–838.
Fowles, J. R., Sale, D. G., & MacDougall, J. D. (2000). Reduced strength after passive stretch of the human plantarflexors. Journal of applied physiology (Bethesda, Md. : 1985), 89(3), 1179–1188. https://doi.org/10.1152/jappl.2000.89.3.1179
MacDonald, G. Z., Penney, M. D., Mullaley, M. E., Cuconato, A. L., Drake, C. D., Behm, D. G., & Button, D. C. (2013). An acute bout of self-myofascial release increases range of motion without a subsequent decrease in muscle activation or force. Journal of strength and conditioning research, 27(3), 812–821. https://doi.org/10.1519/JSC.0b013e31825c2bc1
Pearcey, G. E., Bradbury-Squires, D. J., Kawamoto, J. E., Drinkwater, E. J., Behm, D. G., & Button, D. C. (2015). Foam rolling for delayed-onset muscle soreness and recovery of dynamic performance measures. Journal of athletic training, 50(1), 5–13. https://doi.org/10.4085/1062-6050-50.1.01