This Is the Great Time to Foam Roll

Today, most people are familiar with the foam roller and its many advantages. But how and when to do it is less clear. Some experts recommend rolling the foam before training, others say that it is superior after. Some say that rolling foam before bed is the secret to relieving muscle pain, and others may think that the morning is superior.

But if we take into account the simple truth that most people are limited in time, it is necessary to optimize our time. So when do you get the most bang for your buck? Well, it depends on why you are rolling foam in the first place.


First of all, let’s clarify some things about foam lamination in general. “The biggest misconception with foam lamination is that people think it bodily breaks knots and smoothes tissues,” says Alina Kennedy, body therapist and strength and conditioning coach. Many people imagine it almost as a rolling pin that smooths the dough. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.

“Muscles don’t have their own brains, so they can’t contract or relax without being encouraged by the nerves associated with them,” emphasizes Kennedy. “Think of the muscles as puppets and the central nervous system as puppeteers. If the central nervous system does not drive the change, nothing happens with the muscles.

“Fortunately, foam rolling has a direct effect on the central nervous system,” she says. “Putting pressure on a stressed muscle sends a message to the brain that the muscle is safe and that it is normal to relax.”That’s why you don’t want to be too hard when rolling foam, otherwise it could have the opposite effect.

With that in mind, here’s what you need to know about the timing of foam lamination based on your specific needs.

“For most people, the foam roller is preferable before training,” says Kennedy. This is especially true if you practice weightlifting, running, cycling or any other sport where it is important to move well. “Spending 10 minutes rolling foam before exercising relaxes tense muscles, brings blood to the muscles you are currently using and improves your mobility.”

Secondly, foam rolling combined with stretching has proven to be one of the most effective ways to increase the flexibility of tense muscles, according to Kyle Stull, chiropractor, senior director of program design at TriggerPoint and strength and conditioning coach. “Muscles often become short and overactive when we sit at a desk for long periods of time or do repetitive movements. If these short muscles are not brought back to their normal length before training, they can stress the tissues and even pull the joints out of optimal alignment. Foam rolling helps to reduce the activity of these muscles, which allows them to stretch superior and avoid excessive load and tension from the environment.”

If you sit at work all day and/or practice a sport that requires optimal exercise, rolling the foam before working out is your best bet.

If sore muscles are a problem and you can roll foam before and after training, you may want to consider both. “Everyone knows that he should calm down after a training session, but not everyone knows what that means,” emphasizes Stull. “Refrigeration helps to slowly restore the body to its physiological state before exercise, but it does not always help relieve pain. Muscle pain is caused by small microcracks in the muscle tissue and an accumulation of waste products.”

Waste molecules are formed when muscles contract (which happens during exercise), and usually your body eliminates them on its own. However, when the muscles contract repeatedly, for example during an intense workout, your body cannot flush them as effectively, which leads to pain. “The direct compression through the roller and the rolling movement favors and displaces these molecules out of the tissues, which makes it possible to recirculate the nutrient-rich oxygen and initiate the recovery process earlier,” explains Stull. In other words, foam rolling can speed up the process of removing waste from your muscles.

Remember the short and overactive muscles that we talked about before training? These could also use some post-workout love. “These muscles often tend to quickly return to their shortened and hyperactive state, especially during body activity,” notes Stull. Therefore, by winding and stretching them for 5-10 minutes, you can calm down again.

One thing to understand with foam rolling is that it can be used for targeted purposes (such as heating up the body for training), but it can also be done simply because it feels good. Anyway, before you go to bed, you may want to consider foam rollers.

“When riding to improve movement, the rolling frequency is important — very,” says Stull. “In many things, I recommend that people roll certain muscles 3 to 4 times a day.”

In addition, many people enjoy driving and feel very relaxed afterwards, which makes it an ideal addition to any night routine. “It makes sense, because when you drive properly, you breathe, relax and use a roller that is a little uncomfortable but not painful,” says Stull. “If you roll over, relax and focus on your breathing, this is a perfect bedtime recipe for many people.”

Foam rolling is also a great activity on days when you take a break from the gym, but it’s best to plan it strategically. “On days when you’re not working out (or if you can’t work out because of a problem), it’s best to roll the foam roller when you’re heat and relaxed,” Kennedy says. “Right after the shower or the bath is perfect. Hot muscles relax more easily, so when you roll foam, you get much less resistance and discomfort, which is a big Plus!”

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