Exercise Science

The latest science on Foam Rollers – Are they a waste of time?

Anyone who has been gym recently, has surely come-across/tripped-over someone rolling around (literally) on the ground with a foam roller

So, what is this about?

Well, by rolling over your muscles, you are essentially giving yourself a massage. In exercise-science terms, this is known as self-myofascial release – aka. relieving tension in your muscles without having to fork out on a professional.

The theory – A study in the Journal of Sports Rehabilitation revealed that those who combined foam rolling with traditional stretching techniques found their muscles more relaxed than just stretching.

In recent years, this practice has become more mainstream, some members swear by foam rolling, reporting benefits such as an increase in their flexibility (without reducing muscular strength – a HUGE bonus), circulation and muscle recovery.

Another study in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, backed this up, revealing that foam rolling can help to relieve muscle soreness in the short term.

A new study with the counter agument

Before you go investing in your own foam roller, there are some that remain unconvinced of the benefits. 

Sure, studies have shown that there are some benefits to foam rolling, but there is still a lot we don’t know. Whereas once foam rolling was considered as a way to release tension in the fascia (the soft connective tissue around the body), this is now being challenged.

Some new studies believe that due to the force that is required to manipulate the fascia, the pressure that comes with foam rolling might actually be acting on the nervous system instead.

The truth is, while we know a fair bit about the short-term effects of foam rolling, science has yet to provide answers on what the long terms impacts are. 

It seems like at the moment there is little conclusive evidence either way and professionals all seem to have different views about whether or not foam rolling is actually good.

SO, SHOULD YOU DO IT? 

Well, in this case it might be of “horse for courses”.

If you find that after you have used a foam roller and you recover quicker and all in all feel better, then go-ahead, there’s been no conclusive evidence saying foam rollers cause any harm.

However, if you find yourself in pain that prevents you from performing your sessions at you regular intensity, it might not be the end of the world giving it a miss.

We are always looking for new studies and conclusive evidence to guide our fitness community in all areas of health and fitness. For more updates in the world of science because we reckon there is going to be plenty more to come on the topic.

We’ll keep you up to date as more comes to hand.

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