T Nation

Foam Rolling


Ok, so looking over some threads and articles, I've heard about benefits that can come with using a foam roller, especially in regards to increasing flexibility. Since I have REALLY bad flexibility I've decided to try and do some. I have a few questions about it though. At the minute, I don't actually have a foam roller yet- I'm basically using a 2-litre cylindrical water bottle which I've filled, and firstly I'm wondering if I'll be able to see any results from using this instead?

My second question is when a session should be done? I'm currently doing mine in the evening, when I actually have some free time. I don't get a chance to do it before or after a workout as part of a warm-up/ cool-down, as I don't have enough time... Are the roller routines meant to be done around a workout? Thirdly, I'm wondering if it can be combined with static stretches to help improve flexibility, and if so should the stretches be done before using the roller or after? And finally, is it supposed to be painful!!?
Any help guys and I'd appreciate it, thanks a million


Yeha, it's going to hurt a little, but it should hurt the same way a deep tissue massages does: i.e. the pain feels really.. REALLY.. good. I guess not everyone likes massages, though. You should definitely combine it with stretching as part of your recovery. I do my soft tissue work hours after I've left the gym, so don't worry about placing it around workouts.


Animus nailed it.

To add to what he said: I find that the muscles that are really sore can hurt a good deal when being rolled out but always feel better after.


If you have one a tennis ball will do the trick too. You can pick one up at Dicks or here: http://www.optp.com/Default.aspx


Sorry to be dragging up an old thread but I've recently got a foam roller and I had some similar questions to Watermelon.

Does it really not matter when you do your foam rolling? My training sessions are already taking up more time than I'd like and I now have a prowler to address my piss-poor conditioning.
Can I do my foam rolling later when I've got home and got some food into me? And I assume off-days are good to incorporate foam rolling into as well...? I'm aimning for doing it 3-4 times a week, would that be sufficient?


I'm no expert, but I am using a foam roller as part of physiotherapy right now. I've been told it doesn't matter when you do it. I do 5-6 minutes every day, whenever my schedule allows it. My only other comment: I found it shockingly painful at first, perhaps the most painful thing I have ever done to my body. Feels good after, though, and I think it has done real good for my injury.


Some folks use it before going to the gym, some after.

Some on off days.

It's going to help no matter what, it can have a little more of a special purpose (i.e. warming up muscles prior to lifting without stretching the shit out of them and killing your stretch reflex) but whenever you want is probably fine.


Mike Robertson addresses this question in his (free) ebook "Self-Myofascial Release - Purpose, Methods and Techniques":


Great responses guys, thanks.


Also, does this shit ever stop hurting like fuck?!


Took me about a week of doing it every day. After a month, I now hardly feel a thing.


Do it as often as possible. Eventually it will feel better when you do it, instead of hurting when you do it.

After about 3 weeks of doing it 5+ times a week for about 15-20 minutes I can now get by with doing it once or twice a week at most.

PVC pipe is a cheap alternative for those of you that have worn out your foam. I dont know if Id recommend PVC for a first timer though


My IT-Band seems to be very tight as it's those movements that are causing me the pain. Lumbar spine also. Everything else seems to be pretty ok.
Currently I'm intending to put about 15-20 mins aside each day to go through some major movements and when I get more comfortable with it just scale it back a small bit.

Thanks for the responses nrt and Bonez.


There are ways to do it where you control how much of your bodyweight comes down on the roller. WHen I first started with my IT band I couldnt come close to putting all my bodyweight. Now I have both legs off the ground when I do it, instead of having one foot on the ground holding some of my weight. It just takes time. Let the roller sit under the spots that hurt the most. The pressure alone will help.


ITB is a tendon. Foam rolling it does not soften it or loosen it. You have to relax TFL and the lateral fibers of Glute Max to soften the ITB.

The only thing that may get softer when rolling ITB is Vastus Lateralis underneath it.

This is true of any tendon, as they are largely non-vascular and non-contractile.


Foam rolling definitely makes it feel better, regardless of what's happening in that spot.


You should also try rolling the bottom of your feet. Start with a tennis ball and progress to a golf ball.


my hip flexors near the pelvic bone (I think called psoas) had some crazy tightness and the foam roller helped it out but a tennis ball worked better. Using a tennis ball, it was all about locating the trigger points and releasing it. It hurts but it's a good pain and after weeks the tightness is finally subsiding.


ITB hurts for everyone the first dozen or so times.


Yeah, the ITB and TFL