Report: Foam Muscle Rollers Aren’t As Beneficial As We Thought

Foam rollers have taken over the fitness industry and will likely remain a staple for years to come. The neoprene tube was once a commodity for professional athletes and the like, but nowadays it can be found almost anywhere and definitely every gym.

They’ve certainly taken up a place of their own and we’d assume a few thousand are probably sold every day. But are they really as beneficial as we’ve been made to believe they are?

Let’s firstly take a look at how foam rolling works and what it’s meant to do.


For those of you who aren’t up to speed just yet, foam rolling is simply the application of one’s own body weight to said tube and executing small repetitive movements to massage a particular muscle or muscle group.

To be honest, it can feel really good. Yet researchers have produced minimal data on the subject and there aren’t loads of scientific evidence to support the use of the simple device, per Independent.

The age-old practice of stretching before a workout is still going strong, yet too much of it (apparently more than one minute in a particular area) could leave muscles weakened and actually make a workout less effective.

Rolling, on the other hand, improves flexibility the same way stretching does, but without the weakening of the muscles. The results of an experiment showed that individuals who used a foam roller for two minutes before doing leg extensions were able to perform the exercise with less effort than persons who rested for two minutes.

They were also able to put in improved performances in the gym after rolling every day for a few days.

Foam rolling is also used for recovery and to help reduce soreness in both muscles and joints. It was first thought that the practice released tension from the soft connecting tissue – fascia – that encompasses the entire body, however, researchers have since claimed that it would not produce enough force to stimulate the fascia and had a bigger impact on the nervous system.

As for soreness, there’s also little evidence to suggest that foam rolling increases blood flow.

While the short-term effects can be vouched for, there’s still a lot left to be desired where research into long-term is concerned. What can be said for now, though: it’s better than doing nothing.

So don’t get rid of your roller just yet.

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