Stop Foam Rolling Before Your Workouts: Here’s Why

Stop Foam Rolling Before Your Workouts: Here’s Why

Ahhh… Foam Rolling.

There is no denying; foam rolling does provide some benefits. According to a study on foam rolling for delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and recovery, Pearcey et al. concluded that foam rolling post-workout does effectively reduce DOMS and associated decrements in most dynamic performance measures.

Ok, great. Foam rolling after a workout may reduce my butt cheek soreness. Fantastic.

Foam rolling is a form of myofascial release, which is a therapeutic technique that is associated with applying pressure in order to alleviate pain and improve range of motion. Yes, it’s a real thing, and yes, it works.

…But, I’ve got a few problems with it.

Chances are, if you used a foam roller, you’ve foam rolled the good ole’ IT Band. Don’t worry, I’m right there with you. I’ve punished my poor IT band a time or two – I was told to do so, so I did. Here are 3 easy steps to fixing this problem:

Step 1: Stop.

Step 2: Forcefully, painfully, and intensely dragging the outside of your leg across a piece of foam isn’t doing anything for the connective tissue composed, tight-fascia bound, IT band. See Step 1.

Foam Rolling Before a Workout

Foam rolling is often performed as a warm-up, but I can’t seem to understand why.

In most cases, foam rolling is done to release tight muscles, right? Right.

…This is exactly why you should NOT foam roll before a workout!

The primary function of skeletal muscle is movement and maintaining stability of joints. Why would you want relaxed, loosely stabilizing muscles before working out?

“Recent trends in strength and conditioning have incorporated the use of foam rolling in addition to a traditional dynamic warm-up; however, there has been a lack of evidence supporting this trend.” (Peacock et al., 2014).

K…

Science Stuff

Stay with me.

Foam rolling causes a skeletal muscle relaxation response that influences the neurological function of a muscle.

This relaxation response significantly diminishes the afferent messaging process, which is the neurological messaging system that sends signals from the muscle to the CNS and brain.

For example: If someone flicks your arm, a signal is sent from the skin where the flick occurred, to your brain, where you then register the pain from the flick. That’s the afferent messaging process. I hope that makes a little bit of sense…

Due to the reduction of afferent signals from the foam-rolled muscle to the brain, the efferent messaging process is affected. The efferent messaging process sends signals from the brain to the muscle.

For example: When you decide you want to pick up a cup of coffee, a neurological signal is sent from the brain to the muscles. Those muscles then function in accordance with what the brain wants, by moving and grabbing the cup. The efferent process controls muscular contraction.

Did I lose you?

So, what does this information mean?

Ultimately, foam rolling affects your muscle’s ability to function. Your muscles are now less prepared to deal with unexpected loads by dampening afferent signals, and are now less prepared to contract by influencing efferent signals.

So, you foam roll before workouts because you’ve done it for years and it works for you. That’s fine.

Just know, every time you foam roll before squatting, these 2 things occur:

  1. It UN-PREPARES your muscles for load, which is the exact opposite of what you want to do before weight training! You want your muscles to be prepared for load and resistance, not un-prepared.
  1. It inhibits the muscle’s ability to contract. If your goal is hypertrophy, this one should be especially relevant for you. Foam rolling reduces the skeletal muscle’s contractile capacity, which will ultimately influence your ability to build muscle.

Closing

At the end of the day, foam rolling before a workout will not kill you, you won’t get injured from it, and generally speaking, it is harmless.

So, why am I telling you NOT to do it? Well, because, it is a waste of your valuable time, and it’s pretty difficult to argue with science.

Skip the foam roller before your workout. Warm your body up with activation of muscles through dynamic movement, not by painfully squishing body fat around on a foam log. (I know…foam rolling is considered a dynamic warm-up, but we’ll save that for another day.)

As I said at the beginning, foam rolling does serve its purposes, and it is an extremely valuable tool in recovery, myofascial release, and more… but not before you workout. Save it for after your workout (or literally any other part of the day).

I encourage you to do your own research before foam rolling pre-workout, which may have negative implications on your training. Don’t allow my voice to cloud your judgment on the topic, as you should form your own educated opinion.

The fitness industry is filled with “alternative facts” as our Great Leader, Donald Trump, would call them. Sometimes it is ok to go against the grain, and oppose current trends.

I’m going to leave you with a quote that significantly relates to the article, as it is often difficult to determine validity in fitness “facts” we hear and are told. Thanks for reading.

“The thing about quotes on the internet is you cannot confirm their validity.” – Abraham Lincoln

 

Peacock, C. A., Krein, D. D., Silver, T. A., Sanders, G. J., Von Carlowitz, K. A. (2014). An acute bout of self-myofascial release in the form of foam rolling improves performance testing. Int J Exerc Sci. 7(3), 202-211.

 

Pearcey, G. E. P., Bradbury-Squires, D. J., Kawamoto, J. E., Drinkwater, E. J., Behm, D. G., Button, D. C. (2015). Foam rolling for delayed-onset muscle soreness and recovery of dynamic performance measures. Journal of Athletic Training. 50(1), 5-13.

Want A Free Workout Program?
I agree to have my personal information transfered to MailChimp ( more information )
Enter your email and name now to receive a FREE 7-day Fat Burning Program!
No, you will not be spammed with emails.
Patrick Burns

Leave a Reply Text

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *