How Often Should I Foam Roll?

How Often Should I Foam Roll?

Do you own a foam roller? Perhaps you were given one for Christmas, or maybe you bought one off Amazon after hearing how good they were for your recovery? Maybe you’ve had one for a while and not used it, maybe you’ve been hammering your legs every day with it since you got it – either way it is important to know the hows and whys of when to use your foam roller.

Before Activity

Using a foam roller before you start an activity will allow you to perform gentle myofasical release on anywhere you might recognise as problem areas in your own body. Slowly rolling the muscle will gently allow greater blood flow to that area, effectively ‘waking up’ the muscles or areas being rolled allowing greater range of motion and movement, so when you follow on with mobility and light cardiovascular exercise to fully warm up into your activity, you will have activated your key muscle groups hopefully helping prevent injuries or further problems occurring in these areas.

Even if you have no particular ‘problem areas’, rolling your major muscle groups such as the quadriceps or calf muscles lightly before every exercise session will still bring the benefit of increased blood flow, elasticity, and activity in the muscles, preparing them for the workout ahead with some studies suggesting it can also help prevent muscle soreness after the session.

Be sure to roll the full length of the muscle you are working on, without crossing over any joints with the roller ie when rolling the quadriceps, move the roller from the hip down to the knee & back, up to 60 seconds per muscle group is plenty to increase blood flow and feel the benefit.

foam roller

Post-Activity

Foam rolling can be performed at the end of every run or exercise session as part of the cooldown. Utilising the foam roller to find deeper knots or tender areas in the fascia by rolling the muscle, pressing down firmly into the roller until you find one particular area that stands out – you’ll know it when you find it – press the muscle firmly into the roller in this area for 30-60 seconds, or until you feel the tender spot ease off.
 
Foam rolling in this way after an exercise session not only ‘irons out’ the muscle that have tensed up during your training, allowing them to relax, but by focusing on particular tender areas you will allow these knots to release, helping ease off soreness, balance out anywhere that your body might have been overcompensating, and help massively in injury prevention.
 
Studies have shown that athletes who foam roll after every session are able to come back stronger, feeling less tired and more ready for their next run.

foam roller

Benefits of Daily Foam Rolling

Foam rolling can be performed on rest days, or on evenings after exercise sessions, simply follow the same tips as above, rolling gently at first over the whole length of the tissue of the muscle you are focusing on for no longer than 60 seconds, going back to any areas that felt particular tender and pressing firmly for 30-60 seconds or until they ease off.
 
This type of trigger-point myofascial release has been shown to have great benefits in aiding circulation, preventing muscle cramps, decreasing recovery time, and relieving pains and aches in our bodies caused by exercise or daily lifestyle factors. Gentle rolling as part of your rest day or evening routine can be a great de-stresser, helping your mind as well as your body take some much-needed recovery.
 
In answer to the question posed by the title, it is clear that if you have a foam roller you could/should be using it every day. If you don’t have one, then get one and use it every day! Most gyms have foam rollers by their matted areas nowadays so you can cool down effectively after a gym session too. Use the foam roller every day at these suggested times to reap the benefits or reduced sore/tight muscles, increased circulation & flexibility, and help prevent injuries!
 

Written by me, Keith Fairburn; 
Personal Trainer, Sports Therapist, S&C Coach. 
Ninja Warrior Semi-Finalist, Obstacle Racer, Salming Running Ambassador.
If you have any questions about anything I’ve written in this post or want to get in touch, contact me.

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