“If you don’t foam roll every day, you’re an idiot.”
-Mike Boyle, world class strength coach
Although foam rolling has been around for over a decade, it is still slow to catch on in fitness and athletics. I coached high school basketball for nearly a decade and we rarely used a foam roller and that was still more than any of my other colleagues. And, when I walk through most health clubs I rarely see anyone foam rolling. When we understand the benefits of foam rolling, it seems crazy that everyone isn’t rolling out daily. However, I think the lack of foam roll use is due mostly to the fact that people don’t know how to foam roll and don’t understand why we should. The focus of the post today will be making the case for why we should foam roll daily. Here are three reasons you should be foam rolling.
1. Foam rolling is self massage. If you have never had a professional massage, you are missing out. If you have, you will know that it doesn’t feel all that great while it is happening, but afterward you feel refreshed and your muscles feel better. While foam rolling does not replace a good massage therapist, it is a cheap way to change the muscle density and break up some of the crap that can build up in certain areas of your muscles.
2. It unties the knots. The simple answer for why we should foam roll is that if you pull on a knot what happens to the knot? It gets tighter. Well it’s the same way with our muscles, when we stretch before foam rolling we pull those knots tighter and we create a fake flexibility and actually do more harm than good. Now this is a super simplified version of what happens. There are not actually knots in our muscles. Those lumps, while not knots, are still a problem. Foam rolling irritates the tissue enough that it causes a chemical reaction in the muscle that changes muscle density. When you initially begin foam rolling, it is really painful, honestly it can be so painful that you want to stop doing it. Maybe this is another reason why people give up on foam rolling, because it hurts. However, if you consistently foam roll for a week, you will notice that your muscles don’t hurt nearly as much as they did when you first started, and they will feel better throughout the day.
3. Your muscles recover faster. When we take care of our bodies, they respond better. Foam rolling is a way for us to take better care of our muscles. The athletes I am training have been blown away at how much better their body feels after a few days of foam rolling. They have been pleasantly surprised at how much quicker they recover. This can be a game changer in your training. If you have the ability to recover quicker than your opponent you can get more out of your training, but also when you compete. Athletes, in season, who are not foam rolling daily, are missing out. If I was still coaching high school hoops, I would have every athlete on a foam roller. It’s that important and that much of an advantage. The demands of a season are tough on our bodies. Foam rolling is a way to help our bodies bounce back quicker. So, while Coach Boyle’s quote at the beginning of the post may sound harsh, it couldn’t be truer.
If I get enough interest in this post, next week I’ll go over the foam roll routine I use with my athletes. Until then get to rolling!