T Nation

Foam Rolling



I've just started seriously lifting a few months ago, and things are going well. I have made some good gains in both strength and size, but im starting to feel a little tight in some areas. nothing serious, just a little inconvenient. Most the research i have done has lead me to wanting to buy a foam roller,but im a little unsure on what brand to buy/ if it even makes a difference. when i did a quick google search i saw some rollers as cheap as $10 and some as expensive as $60. Being a poor college student money is tight, so i was wondering what brands/ where can i find the best value when purchasing a foam roller? thanks

also tips/ links on foam rolling technique would be greatly appreciated


I dont know much about brands for foam rollers... but just google or youtube foamrolling technique... Also go to the search function on this site, it will help!


i have a Altus brand from walmart. they sell it for $18.99 on the site and after tax and shipping it came out to about $23. it works just fine.


Performbetter.com has a good selection, get one that you can afford that is reasonably dense and after a few months when it starts to feel like it's losing it's effect get some pvc pipe and wrap it in some sort of athletic/medical tape and continue to hate/love your life. I have my old foam roller and a pvc pipe and can use them interchangeably depending on the soreness of the areas i'm trying to hit. Also, tennis balls and lacrosse balls should be on your list.


I might "stir up the bee's hive" by saying this, but I would recommend against foam rolling. I haven't seen any convincing scientific evidence that it actually does anything. Sure, even some of the coaches on the T-Nation website are avid promoters of foam rolling, but I have yet to see any scientific proof that it "loosens tight muscles" or "breaks down scar tissue." I foam rolled a few times and I just don't see the point of inflicting pain to myself to relieve pain. Doesn't make sense.

Just doing the tried and true stretching routines a few times a week (or more often) would be much more beneficial. Just my 2¢.


Dude I foam roll everyday before lifting weights. I feel way more flexible, is also a good warm up as it increases blood flow throughout the body and increases the heart rate. It causes endorphines to congegate on the area which is being foam rolled as the proprioceptors in the muscle go through shock due to the sudden pain and causes as I said enorphines and other chemicals to rush to the site, causing it to get rid of build up of scar tissue and lactic acid.

Also i have had a dic hernia and foam rolling has completely dulled any pain in my back and has allowed me to rehab to almost 100% perfect (give or take a few bad days if I squat too heavy). Also after a muscle has been worked, foam rolling it before hand, after and the day after before another workout has increased recovery dramatically!!! So yeah if you did some research you will find substantiated claims on the rehab abilities and ROM increase in trainees in regards to the benefits of foam rolling.


Like I said before, I don't see the point of causing pain to relieve pain. Pain is the body's way of telling you that something is (or about to go) wrong. At least that's how I see it.

Another question that has been on my mind is why do people keep foam rolling if it supposedly works so good? If it REALLY works so well, why would you have to keep doing it? Shouldn't the problem be gone?

Now I have done a small bit of research on foam rolling (albeit probably not as much as you; you sound like you really believe in what you are doing), but I still couldn't find anything direct scientific evidence about foam rolling removing scar tissue or lactic acid buildup. Even Mike Robertson agrees that scientific research about foam rolling is lacking, and I quote "...it force us to theorize and speculate on the percieved effects of any medium." (taken from his Self myofascial release manual)

If it works for you, though, I say keep on doing it. I'm assuming that's you in the avatar, so it looks like whatever you're doing is working well. I just thought I'd throw my opinion out there, so the OP would have a different side of the story on foam rolling.


I like foam rolling just because I like my massages more on the "high pressure" side so that's why I like it.

OP, if you wanna just experiment, I think somewhere on this site there's instructions to try taking a "swimming noodle" ($1 at Walmart) and a wooden dowel (Hardware store?) and making a home made one. I personally use a 2 foot (length) 4 inch (diameter) pvc pipe.


Yeah I know where your coming from Nate... But this is like arguing which reps are better, 3-6 or 8-12? Haha! That debate will never end! Lol. I guess its just preference, I know for myself it would destroy my lower back if I dont foam roll and proceed to work out legs. If foamrolling does prove not to be what I and many people believe then it could be a physiological ritual in a sense. But oh how it feels so good to roll, haha could be a masacist tendancy lol!


its true that there isn't much "scientific" studies done on foam rolling but I just go off of how i feel after. Before I roll my targeted body part (PWO) is usually pretty tight, after rolling its much looser. The muscle itself is still sore but it no longer "locks" up and makes DOMS much much more bearable.

as far as decreasing recovery time I think it depends person to person. I know some BB (Cutler, Coleman, etc) are big advocates of the deep tissue massage post workout to increase blood flow and reduce recovery time. Two of my chiropractor buddies have stated the same thing, that stimulation to the area will increase blood flow, help remove scar tissue, and promote muscle repair/growth. Ultimately who knows what is working and what is not. In the end of the day its about preference. Personally I foam roll to reduce soreness the following days and to loosen up the muscle in general.


Yeah dude its just preference at the end of the day... I had a deep tissue massage on friday, and lord allmighty it was sore but literally at the end of it my whole back was completely loosened and the muscles like the infraspinatus and so forth had completely relaxed. Going once a month, I would recommend that to anybody at anytime to go for one!


also here's a money saving tip for those with health insurance. a lot of times u can get a 30 min to 60 min massage from a chiropractor's office that has a massage therapist and write it off as a chiropractor visit. So basically u pay ure specialist copay ($25-40) for a deep tissue massage for about 30 min or more depending on office.


OP: just get a pvc pipe about 4-6" in diametre (depending on your size), its cheaper and will last forever unlike any foam roller.
and im gonna echo Vinnie here and say I foam roll to reduce soreness the following days and to loosen up the muscle in general. i believe i have avoided a few injuries by doing so


Isn't the logic behind foam rolling something about helping your muscles work the lactic acid out of the muscular tissue and back into the bloodstream? I didn't know anything about scar tissue or anything else. Just the lactic acid idea.


Well it does alot of things but it all falls under recovery... So be it lactic acid build up, scar tissue or increasing range of motion. But I also heard about it helping the removal of lactic acid, because I mean it speeds up your heartrate which increases blood circulation...


if i understand correctly and i could be way off... whenever there's increased blood flow into an area thats "recovering from trauma" its a good thing. blood brings nutrients which in turn speeds recovery time. Honestly i did legs on saturday. Didn't foam roll till tuesday in the middle-end of some intense DOMS. wednesday legs still sore but not tight foam rolled twice in late afternoon and before bed, today i feel almost back to 100%. Like everyone has stated its personal preference but im pretty sure this is no placebo effect.

in addition to this i think its important to note that sleep and water intake also play a huge role in recovery. just my $.02...


PVC pipe. It will hurt like hell in the beginning but get better as you go on. After a while it's not even that uncomfortable.

I find that it seriously reduces soreness and helps on mobility. And all the hot bitches are gonna be wondering what you're doing.


Although I've said my piece, I'd also like to add that CT was recently asked a question about whether or not he incorporates foam rolling/stretching into his athlete's training routine, and he admitted to knowing almost nothing about either subject. Furthermore, he adds that he's never been interested in foam rolling or stretching and has never had recovery problems (we all know how hard he trains, and how hard he trains his athletes). One could assume that, due to his admitted lack of knowledge on this area of training, he probably doesn't have his athletes foam roll or stretch either.

On the other hand, CT and his clients do have access to an acupuncturist and ART whenever they need it...

Food for thought.


Well can't argue with CT's techniques. His atheletes are jacked as hell!!! Just gotta do with what feels right to ones own self in the end + milk! :slightly_smiling:


Your argument makes little sense as there probably will never be any research on this sort of thing since there's no motivation to fund it.

I'm a big fan of ART and get treated with it regularly, but it's a completely different thing than foam rolling, and even if it weren't, it's much more expensive.

Besides, I do everything I can to minimize my need for ART and other treatments.

Maybe I'd have a different perspective if I were CT and had unlimited access to therapists who performed soft tissue work.