Watch someone foam rolling and you’ll often see them wincing in pain or pulling some non-Instagram friendly faces. Is it really a case of no pain no gain with foam rolling?

The Study

A recent study attempted to look at this using 16 regularly training participants. First they determined the maximum pressure each person could tolerate (100%). They then did 3 separate foam rolling sessions, 40%, 60% and 80% of max pressure.

They wanted to see how each foam rolling session would affect:

  1. The maximum contractile ability of a muscle

  2. Range of motion (active and passive)


Results

Independent of the pressure used, both active and passive range of motion were significantly increased. There was no significant drop in contractile ability (think strength & power) of the muscles. So you get the benefits of a greater range of motion with no negatives of reduced strength and power.

Conclusion

Personally, I’m a big fan of foam rolling, I think for the short amount of time needed you to get a great return. What the study shows is that you don’t have to roll around in agony for it to be effective, and secondly, that done pre-workout it won’t negatively affect your strength.

Recommendations

1. When foam rolling don’t focus on how much pain you can tolerate, but rather use a good amount of pressure for which you can still stay relaxed.

2. Pre-workout foam roll any areas that are chronically tight to increase the range of motion. In the modern age, common examples of tight spots due to excessive sitting are the hip flexors, pecs and lats. 30-60 secs per area is sufficient.

3. Post workout foam roll any muscles that you have just worked. Again 30-60 secs per muscle group is usually sufficient to see a noticeable recovery benefit and to decrease DOMS.

Do you foam roll yourself? and if so do you find it effective?

Coach Jay.



Resources

http://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/Abstract/publishahead/Higher_Quadriceps_Roller_Massage_Forces_Do_Not.96014.aspx