Benefits Of Foam Rolling (9 Reasons It Hurts So Good)

Foam rolling is an activity that breaks up myofascial adhesions. It creates a self-myofascial release to help reduce inflammation in the muscles, contribute to muscle repair, prevent injury, and ease muscle soreness. The benefits of foam rolling are numerous, and we recommend using foam rolling as a way to take care of your body and muscles before and after a workout.

Foam rolling involves using a foam roller to help muscles recover from workouts and daily life as well as prevent injuries and other issues. Foam rolling can help muscles repair themselves after intense workouts and ease muscle soreness. Foam rolling works by taking a foam roller, lying on the floor, and pressing the body into the foam roller while "rolling" in different directions.

1. Increases Range of Motion

Foam rolling can increase your range of motion, which is important for everyone. A good range of motion can make daily life more comfortable and can also prevent injury.

Many workout exercises use a full range of motion, and your workouts will benefit from an increased range of motion. We also use a full range of motion to help balance, stability, and daily movement.

2. Increases Circulation

An increase in circulation is one of the benefits of foam rolling for runners. Runners need good blood circulation to avoid swelling muscles and muscle microtrauma.

Increased circulation also helps us throughout our daily life by ensuring that our organs are able to function properly, wounds heal easily, and the brain stays smart. Circulation is also important for beauty standards because it helps keep the skin youthful.

3. Improves Mobility & Flexibility

A foam roller can improve mobility and flexibility because muscles are simultaneously being stretched and going through the process of myofascial release.

Greater flexibility is made possible because the muscle's knots are broken up so that the muscle is smoother when contracting and can reach farther. Enhanced mobility and flexibility prevents injury, makes everyday movement more comfortable, and keeps the body relaxed.

Another great way to improve your mobility and flexibility is to stretch or do yoga. Read through our head to head comparison guide on yoga vs stretching!

Benefits Of Foam Rolling

4. Prevents Injury & Helps You Recover Faster

By using a foam roller, you can prevent injury and help yourself recover faster. This is one of the benefits of foam rolling self-myofascial release because this technique keeps the body moving efficiently and reduces tension in the muscles. 

Muscle injuries tend to occur due to overuse or due to tension. The breaking up of myofascial adhesions (which delay healing) can also help muscles recover faster after a workout.

5. Warms Up Muscles Before Workout

Warming up the muscles before a workout is one of the benefits of foam rolling for athletes/bodybuilders. When you exercise, you want to have muscles that are loose and engaged. Foam rolling activates the muscles and increases the blood flow to each muscle group. As a result, you will get a better workout with warmed-up muscles and decrease your chance of a workout injury.

6. Reduces Muscle Soreness/Pain

Foam rolling can reduce muscle soreness and the aches and pains associated with it. To do this, foam roll along the large muscle groups. These muscles tend to create myofascial adhesions, which can tighten muscles and decrease flexibility. Muscle soreness is also reduced through increased blood flow to the muscles. Daily foam rolling can alleviate sore muscle pain. 

Related Article - Importance Of Post Workout Stretching

7. Relieves Back Pain

Back pain often includes inflammation, and foam rolling can help alleviate inflammation. However, not everyone should foam roll their back. Lower back pain tends to be caused by muscle imbalances or improper usage (sitting at a desk too long, sitting in the car too long, etc.).

8. Helps To Relax

Foam rolling your muscles allows them to relax, which relaxes your entire body. This is particularly helpful if you struggle with falling asleep at night.

Try a short 5-minute foam roller massage to release the tension in your muscles about twenty minutes before you plan to go to bed. After a strenuous workout, foam rolling can relax your muscles and ensure that they don’t stiffen with built-up lactic acid.

9. Treats Cellulite

Another one of the benefits of foam rolling is that cellulite can be treated, and the action can aid in weight loss. The benefits of foam rolling for weight loss include keeping your body healthy enough to take on challenging workouts with muscle soreness. The more you can work out and the harder you can train, the more likely you are to be able to stick with your weight loss workout plan. 

woman foam rolling hamstrings

How Does Foam Rolling Benefit Different Muscle Groups?

Foam rolling has numerous benefits for each muscle group. We recommend using your foam roller on each of the main muscle groups: quads, back, calves, glutes, hamstrings, and legs.

Although foam rolling does not help with muscle growth directly, it does prevent injury and keeps muscles relaxed so that you can lift heavier, perform more intense cardio, and stay injury-free. This will help you build muscle.  

  • Quads
    The quadriceps are a huge muscle group in the body and are essential for everyday movement. They can tighten up after a hard workout and require extra TLC. Foam rolling keeps the quads relaxed and avoids painful injuries such as quad tears or quad strains. 
  • Back
    The back can be rolled with a foam roller, but it isn't always recommended. It depends on whether or not you have existing pain in your back. If you have existing pain, we recommend speaking with your doctor first before foam rolling your back (particularly your lower back) to ensure that you aren’t applying pressure in a way that could injure your back. If you are going to use a foam roller on your back, begin by placing the roller horizontally and rolling side-to-side. You can use your hands and arms for less pressure. Read our guide on foam rolling lats for more info!
  • Calves
    Calves can be rolled out with the foam roller by using your arms to support your body and then slowly rolling the foam roller from just below the knee down to the ankle. The way that you lean your body weight will determine how much pressure is applied to the calf muscle. 
  • Glutes
    The glutes are an area that is well connected to the knee. If you have had knee injuries or knee pain, it's likely that your glutes are weak. Your glutes are also probably weak if you work a desk job or spend a lot of your time sedentary. Keeping your glutes rolled out will ensure that they can work better to keep the hip joint and knee joints stable. Foam rolling can both activate and relax the gluteal muscle. 
  • Hamstrings
    Your hamstrings will benefit from foam rolling by getting rid of that typical “tight” feeling that most people get after working out in their hammies. The hamstrings tend to be one of the tighter muscle groups, and foam rolling can really help alleviate hamstring pain. 
benefits of foam rolling

Different Types Of Foam Rollers (Explained For Maximum Results)

There are primarily five different types of foam rollers: low-density foam rollers, firm foam rollers, short foam rollers, bumpy foam rollers, and medium-density foam rollers. Low-density foam rollers are the lightest possible foam rollers and are also the softest. If you are sensitive to pressure points or if your muscles are feeling extra sore already, we recommend a low-density foam roller.

The firm foam roller is a heavier foam roller with the maximum amount of pressure out of all of the foam roller options. These are the foam rollers that feel the hardest when you push against them and will create the deepest tissue release. However, these foam rollers can be too intense for non-athletes.  

Short foam rollers can come in both low-density and high-density forms, but they are ½ to ¼ of a traditional foam roller length. The reason for this is that short foam rollers do an exceptional job at working the smaller areas.

If you want to roll out specific areas of your body, a short foam roller is your best bet. Bumpy foam rollers have bumps and knobs sticking out of them. These are great for releasing muscle knots and work well at hitting trigger points. 

These can be uncomfortable for people who are sensitive to pressure points but work really well for those trying to hit the muscle trigger points for myofascial release.

Medium-density foam rollers are in-between low-density and high-density rollers. We recommend medium-density for people who want something that can create a little more pressure than low-density but isn’t as dense as high-density foam rollers.  

We covered all these different types in our review guide on the best foam rollers on the market. Don't forget to check it out, so you can start reaping these benefits and many more.

different types of foam rollers

How To Start Foam Rolling? (Tips For Proper Technique)

When you begin foam rolling, the first step is to choose your foam roller and find a soft place to lie down. The next step is to lie on your back and place the foam roller underneath your thighs.

From here, you can gently roll your body along the foam roller, making adjustments by tilting from side to side and using your hands to prop your body up to apply less pressure. You can flip over and work the other side of your body as well, with your stomach facing the floor.

The best way to use a foam roller is to gently move the roller horizontally and vertically along each muscle group. When you feel a particularly tight area, you can stop and lean into the sore spot by applying additional pressure. Take it slow, and you'll find what works best for you.  

Foam rolling is generally considered safe and can be performed several times each day. It is important to check with your doctor if you have existing injuries that a foam roller could interfere with.  


Frequently Asked Foam Rolling Questions 

Is it good to foam roll every day?  

Yes, it can be healthy to foam roll every day. Foam rolling is a safe exercise, and there are no adverse effects associated with foam rolling daily. The only possible negative effect would be for people with existing injuries who should not apply foam rolling pressure to their injuries. Otherwise, foam rolling daily ranges from no effect to beneficial effect.  

Is foam rolling better than stretching? 

Foam rolling and stretching are two different activities and should both be used together. Foam rolling will break up myofascial adhesions and creates a self-myofascial release.

However, when stretching and foam rolling are used together, studies have shown that there is an increased level of flexibility. If you only have time for one activity, we recommend foam rolling. In an ideal world, we would recommend foam rolling at the beginning of your workout and a combination of foam rolling and static stretching at the end of your workout.  

Why does my back hurt after foam rolling? 

Your back can hurt after foam rolling if your muscles haven’t been warmed up. We recommend doing a short running-in-place warm-up of 2-3 minutes if you haven’t already worked out in some capacity.

This is especially important if you have just gotten out of bed or have been sitting for a long period of time. You may also be applying too much pressure to your back. You can limit the amount of pressure applied to your back by using your arms to help support your back.  

How long should you foam roll for?  

We recommend spending between one to two minutes on each muscle group when foam rolling. If you are new to foam rolling, spend closer to 30 seconds to 1 minute on each muscle group. Avoid spending too much time on any one muscle group because this can create soreness and pain (the opposite of what a foam roller typically does). Most people should spend 10-15 minutes max foam rolling each day.  


Conclusion

Most people will benefit from using a foam roller daily. The only caveat is that people with injuries should check with their doctor to ensure that the pressure applied when using the foam roller won't interfere with healing. Foam rollers help break up myofascial adhesion, contribute to flexibility, limit muscle soreness, and create a healthier, more relaxed body.  

Last Updated on April 11, 2022

Paul J