Do you have a toxic relationship with your foam roller?

Posted by Bebhinn Flaherty on

Your foam roller and your ex might have more in common than you think.

You’ve had really tight muscles for as long as you can remember. You heard a few people talking about foam rolling and how it’s the key to increasing your flexibility, preventing injury and fast tracking healing. So you take the plunge. You commit to 30 mins a day because your favourite professional sports star said thats what they do. (And if James Haskell jumped off a cliff..?)

At first it’s new and exciting. You cant stop bragging about it to your mates. A week in and you are definitely noticing the benefits. You feel looser and more flexible and could it be, even sexier??

Trouble in paradise?

Two weeks in… the “new” smell has worn off along with your enthusiasm. You've had some heavy training sessions and a couple of games and if your being honest, your muscles might be as tight as they always were. Well, these things take time right? Wondering if you’ve bitten off more than you can chew, you question if you are ready for this kind of commitment. Maybe longterm flexibility isn’t for everyone. Finding some more motivation ( Gifs of Cian Healy doing that forward fold while warming up during the world cup), you muster up the will power to carry on your nightly ritual.

Reality sinking in…

Another few days/weeks and things are turning sour fast. You’re spending less and less time together and you’ve been averting your eye from the corner you left it in. You feel guilty but also resentful. This wasn’t how you imagined it would be. It’s more demanding than expected. It was supposed to get easier with time. Deep down you do want to improve your flexibility but on the other hand you would rather help your granny hand wash her delicates than dig that goddamn thing into your calfs again!

Rinse and repeat

A couple of weeks later you tweak your hamstring AGAIN. Frustrated and upset you scramble for a sense of control over the situation. You spot the roller. You hate yourself for thinking it but maybe things were never as bad as they seemed? Should you go back? Will it be different this time or is it just the sports medicine equivalent of answering the 2am “Wua?” text.

Reality bites..

The truth is, there is no good quality scientific evidence linking foam rolling to LONGTERM improvement in flexibility, injury prevention or faster injury healing time. So if these are your primary goals, go forth and be free my friend. You deserve better. There’s plenty more evidence based injury prevention methods in the sea.

Can we still be friends?

There is some evidence (although from research of only moderate quality) supporting the use of foam rolling for short term flexibility and post training recovery. There is also no evidence to suggest it causes any harm.  This makes it suitable for use pre and post exercise. Bear in mind there are other similarly useful aids for warm up and recovery so if you would rather bin the roller and block its number you are under no scientific obligation to keep it in your life.


Don't take my word for it check out some of the research for yourself



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