T Nation

Actual Growth From Foam Rolling?


#1

With all the hub bub in the muscle rags lately about stretching the muscle fascia I found myself wondering if anyone has actually been able to achieve noticeable growth by means of fascia stretching, or, more specifically, utilizing foam rollers or similar apparatuses.

I myself made use of a roller only when I injured myself a few years back and was going to PT 3 times a week, and getting bigger was the least of my concerns. Sure there's been a lot of writing and questioning on here about rolling, but to be honest, I never gave it much credit (my brother the DPT treats some pretty high level athletes, and he thinks it's a bunch of BS if you're not actually rehabbing an injury).

Thoughts?

S


#2

I struggle big time with stiffness and soreness after a big workout and have always been very limited in my flexibility. More so than static stretching or anything elese I find foam rolling helps alot, especially in terms of ROM. Since I started doing foam rolling my gains in terms of PR's have exploded and technique, specificially in the squat, have improved considerably.
The improvements I've seen are mainly in flexibility and strength, and those in turn carried over into size gains.


#3

I'll second what the first response says in terms of muscle stiffness. However, just by simply holding the lat stretch for each arm from the pullup bar for 10 - 15 seconds between vertical pull-sets, I've noticed a bit of growth and extra soreness in the lats from back workouts. In terms of using the foam roller, I haven't found much other than extended ROM in squats basically.

In terms of actual fascia stretching and how effective it is/ how it's done, I don't know too much.


#4

I use a foam roller every morning. It helps with the stiffness and ROM. Especially with my lower back. How have you guys been using it to get size growth and strength in squats?


#5

My results with foam rolling are that it made foam rolling much less painful. I didn't notice any increase in strength or size or flexibility or ROM or form improvement... I just got good at foam rolling.

I've done the DC extreme stretches for a month at a time at different periods and didn't notice anything remarkable.

There are plenty of testimonials to both methods' efficacy, so I can't discourage anyone from trying them.


#6

My personal issue is in attempt to bring up my quad sweep. As I've been just killing 'em in the gym, I wonder if I should be addressing some issue besides just the training aspect.

S


#7

For me the most dramatic effect of foam rolling has nothing to do with fascia stretching. I use it because it gives my joints more freedom due to move by releasing tight muscles. So as someone that has to deal with tightness I find it to be a very effective/useful "ancillary" tool for hypertrophy, but do not find it to provide any direct hypertrophy. But then again, how could that even be measured? How would you separately measure hypertrophy from different stimuli? If you designed an experiment, then of course the group with just foam rolling would show no hypertrophy.


#8

I really only foam roll for my back, IE Thoracic extensions and lower posterior chain, only because i feel that my deep muscle fibers aren't "awakened" and therefore unused during my back routine, esp Thickness. I'll upload a before and after pic.(before i started foam rolling and now 8 months after)


#9

Before in 2008 winter


#10


After 8 months later +2 inches around, 48'' shirt size now, before it was 46


#11

This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.


#12

um I don't think there's any "actual growth". Yet I think it greatly aides in speeding up recovery. Which allows quicker recovery. Which means possible regain in energy levels/strength to increase greatly. Letting you hit your muscles a lot better and more frequently. As we all know better recovery capacity, more frequency = more mass you can gain in the long run...


#13

It just activates "cold" muscle fibers, something that stretching alone can't accomplish. If I foam roll(back) I'm able to pull more weight and get more reps.


#14

I firmly believe stretching my pecs helped my chest grow.


#15

Agreed with this post. It won't directly lead to growth, but it should aid in the long-term goal.


#16

Interesting topic stu. I personally use it because i've had a tear in the levator scapula area for more then 5 years now. I just use it whenever I feel tight in the area or if I feel any discomfort. Aside from that, I don't know if it helped me grow but it definitely let's me train more :).


#17

no matter how well you do it, you are only going to get so much out of a passive therapy IMO!


#18

I think of it this way :

Foam rolling aids in actually lengthening a muscle through autogenic inhibition.

What this does is makes your muscle more "springy" like a bungy cord as apposed to tight like a rope. A "springy" muscle will produce more force than a tight rope like one yeah?

True tonicity of a muscle is how supple and springy it is. Manual therapists get very good at recognising this. Chronic tightened muscles over time reduce sarcomere length inhibiting the contractile property of a muscle. And at the end of the day, 9 times out of 10, a tight muscle is a weak muscle.

So foam rolling and fascia stretching doesn't make your muscles bigger, it allows the muscle to produce more force which in turn, makes your muscles bigger. You still gotta lift the weight!!


#19

You must switch to S'mores Pop Tarts, grasshopper.


#20

My calves are pretty pathetic and are lagging behind my quads and hams. This is the first thing judges told me after competitions. I've really been killing them in the gym. I hoped to bring them up a bit by doing foam rolling, massages (once a week) and deep stretching (after every workout). Very decent success, though, after 8 weeks now.

They seem to be less sore or at least soreness goes away quicker now. I'll keep doing the foam rolling and start to work them on a higher frequency now. Since they seem to recovery faster this may lead to bigger (at least some!) gains.
But up to now I have mixed feelings towards the effectiveness of foam rolling.