T Nation

Foam Rolling: How Much, How Often

How often should one foam roll a tight muscle? Is it always more is better?

Also, how long at a time? Is it okay to just roll up and down on the muscle for like 20 reps? Or should you do it longer?

Thanks!

If the muscle has serious problems, roll it more frequently. I’ve done it 4X per day.

But not too much at a time. I might do 10 reps. Probably no more than 20.

It really works in that after doing it consistently and frequently for a few weeks, I now don’t have to do it near as much.

I usually do it before training back along with a warmup. But im old so once or twice a day if i can.recently bought a thera cane,it works out kinks even quicker then a roller.

Just about all of my leg muscles are tight, and I foam roll the quads, glutes, ITB/TFL, abductors everyday for 10ish reps before my daily mobility work. Don’t forget the mobility work because it helps keep those muscles from getting knotted up again.

What muscle(s) is/are tight? I only ask because there could be a better tool to use, such as “The Stick” or a tennis or lacrosse ball.

I roll every other day but for no real “sets” or time. When my leg feels better, I will switch to the other. Sometimes it takes 2-3 rolls up and down, sometimes it can 20 minutes on each leg. Just depends. I never roll before a workout.

On heavy leg days this can be a life saver while training by rolling in between sets. I found that I do not get as sore.

I read an article by Eric Cressey where he talks about it being counter productive, so I always roll after whatever training I am doing. I will try and find the article and post it. I’m trying to remember if its on this site or on his. Anyways, check out his site on this subject. EC is rapidly becoming someone I read a lot of stuff by regarding rolling and mobility. The guy is too smart for his own good.

I agree with Bartl: Don’t roll before a workout.

Generally if i am going to roll I apply as much pressure as my pain threshold can take, and I slowly roll the muscle until I feel the pressure intensify on a spot of unreleased fascia (The way it was explained to me was like a knot in a sweater, bound up by scar tissue). Then I roll the tightest spot until the pain lessens. A caveat: you will be pretty sore the next day, but I feel like mobility is increased. My right achilles/ankle has always been a little messed up, and I can definitely notice a difference when I treat the fascia down there.

[quote]Bartl wrote:
I read an article by Eric Cressey where he talks about it being counter productive, so I always roll after whatever training I am doing. I will try and find the article and post it. I’m trying to remember if its on this site or on his. Anyways, check out his site on this subject. EC is rapidly becoming someone I read a lot of stuff by regarding rolling and mobility. The guy is too smart for his own good.[/quote]

Be careful in only relying on one source for a topic, no matter how knowledgeable they are. For example, Mike Robertson makes foam rolling part of the warmup for the Bulletproof Knees program. Which one is correct? I have no idea.

Is foam rolling good? Absolutely. Should it be done as part of a well-balanced training program? Sure. When and how often? Whenever you can fit it in.

For me, foam rolling, especially problem areas, improves mobility. So I get better movement patterns and muscle recruitment if I foam roll, then do mobility work, then train.

Mike Boyle also has his athletes foam roll before training.

I’m not sure of the rationale for not rolling before training. If you do have an adhesion or trigger point in the muscle, the muscle as a whole will not contract normally. Releasing the knot allows the whole muscle to be recruited. I would not expect a decrease in strength following rolling, as with static stretching; the whole neural mechanism is different.

Of course, if you have no problem areas in the muscle, it shouldn’t make much of a difference either way.

It IS counter-productive to over-roll or even over-massage an area. My partner, who always overdoes EVERYTHING, rolled until he bruised the whole area. He was in pain till that healed up. Obviously, this wasn’t helpful.

[quote]Doug Adams wrote:

Be careful in only relying on one source for a topic, no matter how knowledgeable they are. For example, Mike Robertson makes foam rolling part of the warmup for the Bulletproof Knees program. Which one is correct? I have no idea.

[/quote]

I think you make a great point here regarding rolling before or after. I have no idea either but after trying both, I prefer to roll afterwards. When I rolled before, I felt flat, if that makes sense. When I roll after I train, it just feels like I am helping the muscles recover better because there isn’t that feeling like I just destroyed them. Thats just my preference.

[quote]andersons wrote:

It really works in that after doing it consistently and frequently for a few weeks, I now don’t have to do it near as much.[/quote]

I have found this to be the case as well. I rolled every night for a month and things finally started to feel better. It is just like weight training, you stick with it you will get results.

I like to foam roll before my leg workout. I used to roll everyday, but now I mainly just do it before my squat day. I know that is not what most people have said. I have had a lot of knee problems though. I feel like foam rolling loosens me up and gets some blood flow going. When I focus on rolling my hip flexors I feel like I increase the mobility there and can “sit back” easier. I don’t know if there is necessarily a right or wrong way, like people have said. Do what makes you feel better.