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Foam Rolling is a popular intervention among athletes in recent years. But why is it so popular and is it worth the pain?

The short answer…Yes!

The long answer.. Research justifies the use of a foam roller in preparation for, and recovery from physical activity.

A meta-analysis combining this research suggests that using a foam roller for thirty seconds to one minute may be beneficial to improving joint flexibility in both a warm-up and cool-down setting. The studies further showed that the greatest improvements were found by combining foam rolling and static stretching. (1)

Secondly, this meta-analysis found that foam rolling after high intensity exercise reduces pain perceived in athlete’s muscles, particularly with continuous use for up to three days post – exercise. This pain, more commonly known as ‘DOMS’ (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) is primarily caused by property changes of the connective tissue in muscles. A foam roller directly targets this damaged connective tissue by increasing blood flow, reducing edema (inflammation) and increasing oxygen delivery. (2)

Thirdly, studies show that regular, short-periods of foam rolling have no negative impact on performance. (3) This is because, as mentioned above, foam rolling is said to target the connective tissue rather than the muscle tissue itself. Meaning athletes can take all the benefits of foam rolling prior to exercise, without worrying about a decrease in performance. In fact, a meta-analysis in 2014 concluded that foam rolling prior to sprinting activities may result in an improvement in performance. (4)

With that being said, why not try it?! A simple, quick and cost-effective way of possible injury prevention and treatment awaits!

Follow the suggestions below, and feel free to contact me for more suggestions/advice!

(1) Mohr AR Long BC Goad CL. Effect of foam rolling and static stretching on passive hip‐flexion range of motion. J Sport Rehabil. 2014;23(4):296‐299.

(2) Pearcey GE Bradbury‐Squires DJ Kawamoto JE, et al. Foam rolling for delayed‐onset muscle soreness and recovery of dynamic performance measures. J Athl Train. 2015;50(1):5‐13.

(3) Healey KC Hatfield DL Blanpied P, et al. The effects of myofascial release with foam rolling on performance. J Strength Cond Res. 2014;28(1):61‐68.

(4) Peacock C. A., Krein D. D., Silver T. A., Sanders G. J., von Carlowitz K. P. A. (2014). An acute bout of self-myofascial release in the form of foam rolling improves performance testing. Int. J. Exerc. Sci. 7, 202–211.

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