by Dustin Hassard | Reviewed 4/24/20
What if you could improve your workout performance, get more mobility, reduce risk of injury, and speed up muscle recovery in only 5 minutes. Would you do it? These are the reasons why I foam roll before and after every single workout, without fail.
Foam rolling is the fastest way I know to get the muscle tissue healthy and keep it healthy. Imagine if you had a massage therapist at your side any time you wanted a massage. That’d be lovely of course, but it wouldn’t be feasible. However, with a foam roller, you have yourself a great alternative to a massage therapist, always at the ready.
I’ll highlight the top reasons to foam roll and if you see even one that appeals to you, grab that foam roller and get to it.
The post-workout benefits are the same as above, but here’s why it matters after you workout.
When should I foam roll and for how long?
I suggest 3-5 minutes of total body rolling before the workout and after the workout. I’ve never experienced excessive foam rolling, but I consider 3-5 minutes the minimum.
Although I still recommend you prioritize foam rolling before a workout, you can make good use of your time by foam rolling during your workout in between sets while resting; 15-30 seconds here and there adds up to a lot of soft tissue work (massage) throughout a workout. For lower body exercises, I foam roll my upper body. For upper body exercises, I foam roll my lower body.
Is it supposed to hurt?
Foam Rolling is the only exception to my rule of finding pain-free movement. In the case of foam rolling, we are seeking areas that are tender and even hurt a little bit. We’ll call these hot spots. For any area that is particularly tender, take extra time and go slow. Breath deep and relax during the rolling. The more you foam roll, the less tender and sensitive those areas will become. The pain will subside with regular practice of foam rolling.
Do you roll on upper body days?
Yes, even if I’m just doing upper body, I always roll and warm up my entire body.
Do you roll before running?
Yes, this is especially important since you’ll be putting your muscles through hundreds to thousands of reps of high impact. Emphasize rolling the calves and shins.
Do you foam roll on rest days?
Every little bit helps.
Anywhere you have muscle tissue can be rolled. These are all of the areas I suggest you hit. It’s a big list, but start with the first 4 and add more over time. I mostly follow this order, but do whatever order you prefer.
I’ve spent years testing the effects of foam rolling and not foam rolling. I even attended a workshop that convinced me not to foam roll, that was a dark time in my life.
When I have aches or pains, foam rolling is my first choice. When someone I’m coaching has pain, foam rolling solves the problem 9 out of 10 times, at least enough to where we can address the root cause of pain with pain-free solutions.
Foam rolling is the one area of my training I never neglect. I always take time to foam roll even if that means cutting into my workout. It has become as much a habit as brushing my teeth. You owe it to your body to test it out to find out for yourself.
If you can get to see a massage therapist once a week, that is recommended, but a foam roller is a reasonable substitute and a great supplement to massage.
You have nothing to lose by foam rolling and so much to gain. It can seem too good to be true that such a simple tool can provide this many benefits, but that’s why I believe the foam roller is magic.