Yes, You Should Foam Rolling


How could ONE of the THOUSANDS of tools in the toolbox, that helps you feel better, be so confusing??

Will Foam Rolling help??    Does it increase strength??  Should it HURTS SO MUCH?  Which Direction should I Roll?     CAN I ROLL MY HEAD??

The fitness world is full of conflicting evidence and today we are going to look into the question.

Do I roll before or after my workout?

truth about foam rolling

What Are the Benefits of Foam Rolling?

The consensus agrees that when used correctly, foam rolling can be used for myofascial release, increasing circulation, improving range of motion, providing pain relief for sore muscles, and softening tissue that has become tight from extended periods of sitting or over-activity.

Tissue that’s been too active can get itself in a cycle where it’s in constant contraction, and that’s the knot you feel in your fascia. By helping you use pressure to massage the fascia, foam rolling is intended to help break up (or “release”) tough, knotted tissue.

By releasing tissue, you are improving Range of motion, by reducing tension at the myotendinous junction (i.e. Myofascial Release) which helps with circulation of fresh, oxygenated blood (i.e Improved Circulation) to flush out H+ buildup from lactate* breakdown, decreasing pain in the body due to delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).

What is the controversy then?

Foam Rolling has been touted to:

1. Be the best ways to break up knots in your muscles

A professional massage therapist is a much better option.

2.  Improve Mobility

Mobility; which also includes stretching and lengthen of muscles , involves joint mobility, which can not be improved by foam rolling.   Therefore Foam rolling being the best way to improve mobility is inaccurate most of the time.  Mobility in very individual and should be addressed daily with focus on your trouble areas, which, depending on your sport and job, probably includes hips and thoracic spine, which rolling wont help.

3. Boost strength and performance

Foam rolling research doesn’t prove that it increases strength and performance.  Relaxing of muscles can also decrease performance which is the issue we will touch on below.

4  Prime your nervous system for a great workout.

Since foam rolling is linked to relaxing the nervous system and relaxing muscles, a bout of rolling before a workout is viewed by some experts as counterproductive.

……..Those the above are closer to half-truths.

Should I Foam Roll Before or After I Work Out?

Why would you want to stretch a muscle, which reduces performance, before a workout?

First you need to understand that there is more than one way to skin a #$%@ and there is more than one way to approach foam rolling: quickly and slowly

The two have markedly different effects.

Quick, rapid rolling provides quick changes in pressure, which are picked up by the pacinian corpuscles, nerve endings in the skin that are involved in upregulation and increasing tactile acuity, or body awareness.  Quick rolling before a workout can help to increase blood flow, stimulate the nervous system and “wake up” the muscles.

You can not train a knotted muscle. 

By reducing tension before a workout, your muscles will be able to fully compress—giving you a full muscle recruitment instead of the limited one that tight muscles restrict you to. 

That can help the body load more symmetrically, experience less discomfort, and improve joint range of motion. It can also be useful for folks who are focused on “waking up” muscle groups or “getting a muscle to fire” before a workout. (Say, the glutes before deadlifts.)

If you can’t get your arm all the way overhead because you have a knot in your lats or something, you might find that rolling the area more intensely can help you get your arms overhead.

lat rolling


John Burns, CEO of Tom Brady’s wellness company, TB12. explains “Imagine you’re doing your quad exercises with 90 percent of the muscle: How much more stable could you be, how much more powerful could you be, how many more reps could you do [if you were using all 100 percent]?” I mean, a lot.

And that’s not the only reason why you should be rolling it out before you’re sweating it out. “Foam rolling before your workout helps increase circulation, decreases tension, and primes the neuromuscular system by driving the parasympathetic nervous system to maximize movement capabilities.


Personally, Foam rolling before I workout has helped me increase my mobility, recover quicker and ultimately feel better over the past 10 years.

I recently started to roll before I run and found myself able to go farther and faster without the usual tightness and pain that I feel in my hips and calves. 

So I’m with the majority on this one: A pre-workout foam roll is definitely worth waking up five minutes earlier for—for the sake of your muscles and your personal records.

A mentor of mine, Coach Boyle, took the words out of my mouth when he said “foam rolling was one of only 3 or 4 game changers in performance training over the past 20 years”

Author: K2 Strength and Conditioning

Kevin owns K2 Strength and Conditioning in Summit, NJ. K2 focuses on athletic performance training for athletes of all ages

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