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 better after. Some say that rolling foam before bed is the secret to relieving muscle pain, while others might think that in the morning at night is wiser.

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 out of your efforts? Well, it depends on why you are rolling foam.


First of all, let’s clarify some points regarding foam lamination in general. “The biggest misunderstanding with foam lamination is that people think it finishs knots and smoothes tissues,” says Alina Kennedy, physiotherapist and strength trainer. Many people imagine it almost as a rolling pin that evens out the dough. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that.

“Muscles don’t have their own brains, so they can’t contract or relax without a clue from the nerves connected to them,” emphasizes Kennedy. “Imagine the muscles as puppets and the central nervous system as puppeteers. If the central nervous system does not manage the changes, nothing happens with the muscles.

“Fortunately, foam rolling has a direct impact on the central nervous system,” she says. “Pressing on a tense muscle sends a signal to the brain that the muscle is safe and can relax.”That’s why you don’t want to be too rigid when rolling the foam, otherwise it could have the opposite effect.

In this sense, you should know the following about the timing of foam lamination according to your specific needs.

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

Secondly, according to Kyle Stoll, chiropractor, senior director of program development at TriggerPoint and strength exercise coach, rolling on foam in combination with stretching has proven to be one of the most effective methods to increase the flexibility of tense muscles. “The muscles often become short and hyperactive when we sit at a desk for a long time or perform repetitive movements. If these short muscles do not give a normal length before exercise, they can lead to tissue tension and even take the joints out of their optimal position. Rolling the foam helps to reduce the activity of these muscles, which allows them to stretch better and avoid overloading and stressing the surrounding areas.

If you sit all day at work and/or practice sports that require optimal movement, rolling foam before exercise is your best choice.

If muscle pain is a problem and you can roll foam before and after your workout, you should consider both. “Everyone knows that it is worth refreshing yourself after training, but not everyone knows what that means,” emphasizes Stahl. “Cooling helps to slowly return the body to its physiological state before exercise, but it does not always help to reduce pain. Muscle pain is caused by small microcracks in the muscle tissue and the accumulation of vital products.

Waste molecules are formed when muscles contract (which happens during exercise) and usually your body eliminates them itself. However, when the muscles contract repeatedly, such as during an intense workout, your body cannot eliminate them as effectively, which leads to pain. “The direct roller compression and the rotational movement contribute to the removal of these molecules from the tissue, which makes it possible to recover nutrient-rich oxygen and speed up the recovery process,” explains Stahl. In other words, foaming can speed up the process of removing slags from your muscles.

Remember the short and overactive muscles that we talked about before training? They also won’t hurt a little post-workout love. “These muscles often tend to quickly return to their contracted and hyperactive state, especially during body activity,” Stahl notes. So if you twist and stretch them for 5-10 minutes, you will be able to calm down again.

One thing to understand about foam felting is that it can be used for targeted purposes (such as warming up the body before training), but it can also be done simply because it is pleasant. In any matter, before going to bed, there may come a time when you want to consider foam rollers.

“When you ride to improve mobility, the frequency of rolling is important – very important,” says Staley. “In many questions, I recommend that people roll certain muscles 3-4 times a day.”

In addition, many people like to go horseback riding and feel very relaxed after that, which makes it the perfect addition to any night routine. “It makes sense, because when you ride properly, you breathe, relax and use a roller that is a little uncomfortable but does not cause pain,” says Stahl. “When you ride, relax and focus on your breathing, for many people this is the perfect recipe before bed.”

Foam rolling is also a great activity on days when you take a break at the gym, but it is better to plan it strategically. “On days when you don’t exercise (or when you can’t work out because of problems), it’s best to apply foam when you’re warm and relaxed,” says Kennedy. “Right after the shower or bath is ideal. Warmed-up muscles relax more easily, so that when rolling foam you feel much less resistance and discomfort, which is a huge plus!”


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