Update on Foam Rolling: Is it worth your time?

Spread the knowledge!

By Hayd’n Hill

I’m sure you’ve already heard of and seen many people in the gym rolling on what is called a foam roller. Perhaps you’ve even personally used it yourself, or in coaching sessions. Have you ever wondered what it’s for? What’s the point of it? Do you even know what it is? A foam roller is a popular tool that is commonly found in training centres and gyms. Foam rolling is often used separately either in a warm-up routine, in between exercise and/or after exercise. Many recreational fitness enthusiasts and novice athletes believe that foam rolling can increase performance, however, the majority of research shows that that may not be the case. So, if it doesn’t increase performance, is foam rolling worth your time?

According to a recent 2019 review of various studies on foam rolling by S. Hendricks et al, foam rolling was found to be a useful tool to compliment other warm up and recovery techniques. Contrary to popular belief, foam rolling does not enhance performance and if you foam roll during exercise or during a workout, it can actually decrease your ability to produce force i.e. perform less repetitions (Monteiro et al., 2018, 2017b, 2017c). This is an important concept to take note of, because it indicates that foam rolling is best used only for certain stages of training, and not others.

Foam rolling may actually be beneficial to use in a warm-up, a cool down or a recovery session (Hendricks et al., 2019). The systematic review revealed the following:

• Warm-up: Foam rolling appears to be a good tool to use during a warm-up to increase flexibility, but it is advised to use foam rolling in combination with an active warm up (increasing your heart rate) and dynamic stretches (mobility drills). This can be important for a Judoka or those in combat sports as these athletes commonly find themselves in extreme joint positions.

• Cool down or recovery: Foam rolling can be used after exercise to enhance recovery and the muscle soreness that follows. Therefore, if recovery is enhanced and DOMS (Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness) lessened, it might be possible to train more frequently. This can prove helpful for any athlete who trains 6 days a week, and sometimes twice a day, as they be able to return to baseline performance sooner.

When it comes to warming up, static stretching has been shown to have a negative impact on performance (Behara and Jacobson, 2017; Healey et al., 2014), and despite what the research says, people still use static stretching during their warm-up routines. Given foam rolling’s effect on increasing flexibility, it has been suggested that foam rolling should be added into a warm-up routine to replace static stretching, as it doesn’t have any negative impact on performance and can be used in combination with dynamic stretching and an active warm-up (Martinez-cabrera and Nunez Sanches, 2016; Morales-Artacho et al., 2017; Su et al., 2017).

However, foam rolling should not form the sole basis of a warm-up program, because dynamic stretching has been shown to increase athletic test performance on its own (Jones et al., 2015). An active/aerobic warm-up paired with dynamic stretching should take priority over foam rolling as there is a lot of research that exemplify enhanced performance and attenuation of muscle stiffness (Martinez-Cabrera and Nunez Sanches, 2016; Morales-Artacho et al., 2017; Peacock et al., 2014; Su et al., 2017). Personally, I use a foam roller on athletes when I know they have a specific movement problem. To improve their movement, they will roll a few specific muscles in the warm-up.

If you are using foam rolling for a recovery session and you have a bit more time, then it’s advised to roll the involved areas that you use in your sport or undergo a full body routine. The majority of research recommended to slowly foam roll an area for 30 to 60 seconds, for 3-5 sets (times). It was also recommended to rest from rolling the same area for 10-30 seconds. Rolling an area for a total of 90-120s proved to obtain benefits, as mentioned above. However, this can be time consuming and is partly why I choose to target a few key areas in a warm-up and do a full body routine during a separate recovery session on a recovery day. The research on foam rolling’s effects on recovery was interesting because it showed some signs of an athlete being able to return to normal performance faster (Macdonald et al., 2014; Ray et al., 2017; Romero-Morelda et al., 2017, 2019).

Applying pressure is key to successful foam rolling and generally, I instruct the athlete to apply pressure on the foam roller with a pain score of 3-5/10 during a warm-up. For recovery, I usually instruct the athlete to apply pressure on the foam roller with a pain score of 6-8/10. In order to do this effectively, it is good to check in with your Physiotherapist or Strength Coach who can help you identify specific areas that you may need to do some foam rolling on before training.

With the studies included in the systematic review by S. Hendricks et al (2019), there seemed to be a consensus that the effects of foam rolling on flexibility may be limited to 10 minutes. The foam roller of choice was a roller with a PVC pipe in the middle, because this roller exerted more pressure than the rollers that are purely made of foam (Curran et al., 2006). The study warned against using foam rolling in between sets of a resistance training session because it may hinder one’s ability to continually produce force. Unfortunately, we do not know why this was the case. More research is needed to discover what the mechanisms of foam rolling are. This may be beneficial for prescribing foam rolling in the future.

Foam rolling programs can be individualized and, I like to add something that is called ‘Pin-and-stretch’. This means that, after you have foam rolled the entire length of the muscle, you hold the foam roller on a tender point and add an active movement to your limb. An example of this is to foam roll the quadriceps (front of the thigh) 10 times, then hold the foam roller on the most tender spot and slowly bend your knee 6 times.

While foam rolling does not seem to be harmful, it can sure waste the time of the coach or athlete if it is not used correctly. In my opinion, if foam rolling reduces muscle stiffness and increases mobility, then foam rolling should be used in the warm-up to achieve both the recovery and warm-up effect. This may help you save time, as opposed to using a foam roller in your warm-up and cooldown sessions on the same day.

Link to the systematic review by S. Hendricks et al (2019) here.


Curran, P.F., Fiore, R.D., Crisco, J.J., 2008. A comparison of the pressure exerted on soft tissue by 2 myofascial rollers. J. Sport Rehabil. 17 (4), 432e442.

Behara, B., Jacobson, B.H., 2017. Acute effects of deep tissue foam rolling and dynamicstretching on muscular strength, power, and flexibility in division I linemen. J. Strength Cond. Res. 31 (4), 888e892.

Healey, K.C., Hatfield, D.L., Blanpied, P., Dorfman, L.R., Riebe, D., 2014. The effects of myofascial release with foam rolling on performance. J. Strength Cond. Res. 28 (1), 61e68.

Hendricks, S; Hill, H.; den Hollander, S.; Lombard, W.; Parker, R., 2019. Effects of foam rolling on performance and recovery: A systematic review of the literature to guide practitioners on the use of foam rolling, Journal of Bodywork & Movement Therapies,

MacDonald, G.Z., Button, D.C., Drinkwater, E.J., Behm, D.G., 2014. Foam rolling as a recovery tool after an intense bout of physical activity. Med. Sci. Sport. Exerc. 46 (1), 131e142.

Martínez-cabrera, F.I., Nú~nez-s_anchez, F.J., 2016. Acute effect of a foam roller on the mechanical properties of the rectus femoris based on tensiomyography in soccer players. Int. J. Hum. Mov. Sport Sci. 4 (2), 26e32.

Monteiro, E.R., Skarabot, J., Vigotsky, A.D., Brown, A.F., Gomes, T.M., Novaes, J.D., 2017b. Maximum repetition performance after different antagonist foam rolling volumes in the inter-set rest period. Int. J. Sport. Phys. Ther. 12 (1), 76e84.

Monteiro, E.R., Vigotsky, A., Skarabot, J., Brown, A.F., Ferreira de Melo Fiuza, A.G., Gomes, T.M., Halperin, I., da Silva Novaes, J., 2017c. Acute effects of different foam rolling volumes in the interset rest period on maximum repetition performance. Hong Kong Physiother. J. 36, 57e62.

Monteiro, E.R., Vigotsky, A.D., Novaes, J.D.S., Skarabot, J., 2018. Acute effects of different anterior thigh self-massage on hip range-of-motion in trained men. Int. J. Sport. Phys. Ther. 13 (1), 104e113.

Morales-Artacho, A.J., Lacourpaille, L., Guilhem, G., 2017. Effects of warm-up on hamstring muscles stiffness: cycling vs foam rolling. Scand. J. Med. Sci. Sport. 27 (12), 1959e1969.

Peacock, C.A., Krein, D.D., Silver, T.A., Sanders, G.J., KA, v.C., 2014. An acute bout of self-myofascial release in the form of foam rolling improves performance testing. Int. J. Exerc. Sci. 7 (3), 202e211.

Rey, E., Padr_on-Cabo, A., Costa, P.B., Barcala-Furelos, R., 2017. The effects of foam rolling as a recovery tool in professional soccer players. J. Strength Cond. Res. 33 (8), 2194e2201.

Romero-Moraleda, B., Gonzalez-Garcia, J., Cuellar-Rayo, A., Balsalobre-Fernandez, C., Munoz-Garcia, D., Morencos, E., 2019. Effects of vibration and non-vibration foam rolling on recovery after exercise with induced muscle damage. J. Sport.
Sci. Med. 18 (1), 172e180.

Romero-Moraleda, B., La Touche, R., Lerma-Lara, S., Ferrer-Pena, R., Paredes, V., Peinado, A.B., Munoz-Garcia, D., 2017. Neurodynamic mobilization and foam rolling improved delayed-onset muscle soreness in a healthy adult population: a randomized controlled clinical trial. PeerJ 5, e3908.

Su, H., Chang, N.J., Wu, W.L., Guo, L.Y., Chu, I.H., 2017. Acute effects of foam rolling, static stretching, and dynamic stretching during warm-ups on muscular flexibility and strength in young adults. J. Sport Rehabil. 26 (6), 469e477.

59 thoughts on “Update on Foam Rolling: Is it worth your time?

  • Hi there, simply turned into alert to your weblog via Google, and found that it is truly informative. I抦 going to be careful for brussels. I抣l be grateful if you happen to proceed this in future. Many folks will be benefited out of your writing. Cheers!

  • I gotta bookmark this site it seems extremely helpful very useful

  • Hola i would really love to subscribe and read your blog posts !

  • Spot i’ll carry on with this write-up, I seriously believe this web site wants considerably more consideration. I’ll probably be once again to learn to read far more, many thanks that information.

  • I discovered your site website on bing and check some of your early posts. Always maintain inside the great operate. I recently additional encourage RSS feed to my MSN News Reader. Looking for forward to reading more within you at a later time!…

  • Hiya, I’m really glad I have found this information. Today bloggers publish only about gossips and net and this is actually frustrating. A good blog with exciting content, that is what I need. Thank you for keeping this site, I’ll be visiting it. Do you do newsletters? Can’t find it.

  • Awseome article, I am a big believer in posting comments on blogs and forums to help the blog writers know that they’ve added some thing of great benefit to the world wide web!

  • *I discovered your blog site on google and check a few of your early posts. Continue to keep up the very good operate. I just additional up your RSS feed to my MSN News Reader. Seeking forward to reading more from you later on!…

  • I’m impressed, I must say. Truly rarely do you encounter a blog that’s both educative and entertaining, and let me tell you, you might have hit the nail within the head. Your concept is outstanding; the thing is an element that too few everyone is speaking intelligently about. We are happy that I stumbled across this in my seek out something in regards to this.

  • First of all let me tell you, you have got a great blog .I am interested in looking for more of such topics and would like to have further information. Hope to see the next blog soon.

  • There are numerous fascinating time limits in this posting however I don’t know if I see all of them center to heart. There is some validity however I’m going to take hold opinion until I check into it further. Good article , thanks so we want extra! Included in FeedBurner as properly

  • wedding venue beside the beach is i think the best and looks very romantic’

  • I like this site very much, Its a rattling nice place to read and get info .

  • I had been wondering should anyone ever considered changing design of the blog? Its perfectly written. I enjoy what youve have got to say. But you could a bit more in the way of content so people could connect to it better. Youve got a lot of text for only having a couple of images. You may could space out better?

  • I’m typically to blogging and i actually respect your content. The article has really peaks my interest. I am going to bookmark your site and maintain checking for new information.

  • definitely an interesting read. i usually dont comment. signed captain america

  • Outstanding post, you have pointed out some fantastic points , I too conceive this s a very good website.

  • Very educating story, saved your site for hopes to read more!

  • Sweet web site , super style and design , rattling clean and utilize genial .

  • I rattling lucky to find this website on bing, just what I was looking for : D too saved to favorites .

  • Hello there, just became alert to your blog through Google, and found that it’s really informative. I’m going to watch out for brussels. I’ll appreciate if you continue this in future. Numerous people will be benefited from your writing. Cheers!

  • Thanks for the sensible critique. Me & my neighbor were just preparing to do a little research about this. We got a grab a book from our area library but I think I learned more from this post. I’m very glad to see such fantastic information being shared freely out there.

  • Hey there, I think your blog might be having browser compatibility issues. When I look at your website in Safari, it looks fine but when opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping. I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Other then that, great blog!

  • I strongly agree on you, I hope that others will realized this also and will take time to read your post! keep writing mate!

  • Hello There. I found your blog using msn. This is a really well written article. I will make sure to bookmark it and return to read more of your useful information. Thanks for the post. I will certainly comeback. que es el acne

  • You’re the best, I was doing a google search and your site came up for foreclosures in Oviedo, FL but anyway, I have thoroughly enjoyed reading it, keep it up!

  • I dugg some of you post as I cogitated they were very beneficial very useful

  • Great – I should definitely pronounce, impressed with your website. I had no trouble navigating through all tabs as well as related information ended up being truly simple to do to access. I recently found what I hoped for before you know it at all. Reasonably unusual. Is likely to appreciate it for those who add forums or anything, website theme . a tones way for your customer to communicate. Nice task.

  • Hey, very interesting article. My aunt and I have recently been searching for extensive details on this subject sort of stuff for a short time, however we didn’t until now. Do you think you can create a few youtube video clips concerning this, I do believe your web blog could well be more in depth if you ever did. In any other case, oh well. I will be viewing on this website in the near future. Email me to maintain me up-to-date. granite countertops cleveland

  • Great web site! I’m loving it!! Will come back once again. I am book-marking your feeds additionally

  • Please tell me more about this. May I ask you a question?

  • I enjoy you because of all of the effort on this web page. My daughter loves carrying out research and it’s really easy to see why. Almost all know all regarding the dynamic means you convey both interesting and useful steps through your web site and as well as invigorate participation from other individuals on this area of interest so our favorite girl has been being taught so much. Have fun with the remaining portion of the year. You are always doing a superb job.

  • My brother recommended I might like this web site. He was entirely right. This post truly made my day. You can not imagine simply how much time I had spent for this information! Thanks!

  • I discovered your blog site website on bing and check some of your early posts. Always maintain in the really good operate. I just extra increase your RSS feed to my MSN News Reader. Looking for toward reading a lot more within you down the line!…

  • I simply recognized your site the previous week and that i continues to be learning which it normally. You’ll be able to loads of tips there and i also relish your look around the rrnternet site to boot. Stick to the excellent show results!

  • The when I just read a weblog, I am hoping who’s doesnt disappoint me up to brussels. I am talking about, I know it was my substitute for read, but I just thought youd have some thing interesting to express. All I hear is really a handful of whining about something that you could fix when you werent too busy searching for attention.

  • Many thanks for creating the effort to talk about this, I feel strongly about this and enjoy learning a great deal more on this subject. If feasible, as you gain knowledge, would you mind updating your webpage with a great deal more info? It’s very useful for me.

  • Hiya, I am really glad I’ve found this information. Nowadays bloggers publish just about gossips and net and this is actually annoying. A good web site with interesting content, this is what I need. Thanks for keeping this site, I’ll be visiting it. Do you do newsletters? Can’t find it.

  • This is the correct blog for anybody who would like to learn about this topic. You are aware of a lot its virtually challenging to argue on hand (not that I actually would want…HaHa). You actually put the latest spin over a topic thats been revealed for many years. Fantastic stuff, just fantastic!

  • Document Information. Was’t things came to be details on seeking however if I just sought after Yahoo this page emerged liked working out looked versus eachother in addition to wanted at any rate many thanks.

  • So many writers today don’t take pride in their work the way you obviously do. Thank you for your dedication to excellent writing and creating this wonderful content. It’s as if you read my mind.

  • LeBron James is the Lil B of basketball… Sucks at what he attemps to do for a living.|PrinceDSwagg|

  • Thank you for sharing this great write-up. Very inspiring! (as always, btw)

  • I am interested in talking to you about your website design. Did someone design it for you?

  • Sometimes, blogging is a bit tiresome specially if you need to update more topics.,-`”.

  • Can I say thats a relief to discover somebody who really knows what theyre speaking about online. You definitely learn how to bring a concern to light and make it critical. Lots more people ought to read this and see why side from the story. I cant believe youre not more popular when you absolutely provide the gift.

  • Very well said, your blog says it all about that particular topic.:-,*;

  • Hey there, I think your website might be having browser compatibility issues. When I look at your blog in Opera, it looks fine but when opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping. I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Other then that, great blog!

  • aspirin has been time tested to relieve minor pains and inflammation and it is cheap too::

  • Helpful info. Lucky me I found your website accidentally, and I’m stunned why this accident didn’t came about in advance! I bookmarked it.

  • ??? ??????? ????? ????? ???? ???? ????? ????? ??????? ????? ?????? ????? ??????

  • i like wireless internet because you can surf anywhere and you can avoid those ethernet cables::

  • An fascinating discussion will be worth comment. I do think that you should write on this topic, it might not often be a taboo subject but generally persons are insufficient to talk on such topics. To the next. Cheers

  • Comfortabl y, the article is really the sweetest on this precious topic. I concur with your conclusions and will certainly eagerly look forward to your upcoming updates. Simply just saying thanks will certainly not simply be sufficient, for the phenomenal clarity in your writing. I will certainly directly grab your rss feed to stay informed of any updates. Pleasant work and also much success in your business endeavors!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *