Does foam rolling enhance recovery? What are the benefits and what applications can the athlete implement?
Great programs have recovery properties prescribed. An individual’s exercise routine must contain four components: warm up, strength, accessory, and a recovery modality. The focus of this article today is to take a deeper look at the latter, specifically foam rolling. Foam rolling is a recovery method commonly seen across all athlete experience levels, from novice lifters to high level athletes, and is beneficial to all.
Foam rolling is performed with a rubber or foam cylinder and the athlete puts her/his body in certain angles and 'rolls' the targeted muscles. Foam rolling contributes to improving recovery from strength training, improving agility performance, and reducing perception of muscle soreness.
A lot of people seem to try and see how uncomfortable they can make themselves while foam rolling, as if the higher the perception of pain the better the results. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. If measured on a scale from 1-10 in 'pain perception' the individual should aim for 2-5 out of 10. Very high pressures do not improve recovery or range of motion.
The athlete must be aware that while foam rolling is not a waste of time, this alone does not have miraculous effects. Foam rolling is one method of recovery therefore, the athlete should implement other methods such as low intensity walking or cycling.
What to do from here? When starting a new protocol, it is recommended to start with low doses and progressively overload. A good strategy is to implement rolling post workout, with 3 sets of 30 seconds per targeted muscle. Aim for slow rolling motions, sticking to areas that may need more attention.