The sight of a hulk like bodybuilder wincing in pain while rolling on a cylinder of foam has quickly become a commonality for most gymgoers these days. Let’s be honest, we have all seen people at the gym walking around with foam rollers. They come in all different shapes and sizes, whether it be the vibrant spiky ones or even the long smooth ones. Foam rollers have quickly taken the fitness industry by storm and there is evidence for why you should roll through the pain.
Most of us foam roll because a friend suggested it, or we see everyone doing it online. Some of us even feel that it is an excellent way to get a self-massage for achy muscles and a tight back. In actuality, the benefits of foam rolling can range from warming up your muscles to boosting post-workout recovery and flexibility. However, foam rolling is a victim to the phenomenon of having a popularity that is greater than the research provided.
Many of the studies on foam rolling are minimal but the claims are great and so are the recommendations by fitness experts. Keeping that in mind we have compiled some of the best studies that verify the biggest benefits of foam rolling.
A small 16-person study in 2018 from the University of Stirling in the UK discovered that people reported less fatigue when foam rolling was incorporated into their warmup routine. Consequently, suggesting that after rolling it took less effort to produce a given amount of force.
In contrast, a similarly small eight-person study in the Journal of Athletic Training suggested that foam rolling post-workout can help reduce DOMs (delayed-onset muscle soreness). Subsequently, a decrease in soreness adds an additional boost in performance in later workouts as recovery time is lowered.
Meanwhile, it is touted in a review published in the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy that foam rolling promotes short-term increases in range of motion. A big benefit of this is that with increased muscle flexibility you can perform workouts with better, more efficient and safer form as you feel less tight. This research is validated by consistently showing an increase in muscle flexibility throughout studies, meaning it is the most substantiated claim of foam rolling.
To feel the true benefits of foam rolling as with any workout routine, it should be done consistently. In addition, it should be used as a tool to aid you in your recovery or performance. To put simply, change your rolling regime according to what works greatest for you. Add it to your list of tools and you might just find yourself abiding to it daily as you see the positive change it provides in your health.