Foam rolling benefits in bodybuilding and proper foam rolling techniques can make a world of difference in your training when applied properly!
Foam rolling is commonly done incorrectly though and I would even go as far as saying it’s done incorrectly nearly every time. Being a personal trainer and corrective exercise specialist, I see this first hand everyday!
When done correctly though, foam rolling is good for you and we can all benefit from it.
Foam rolling shuts off tight/overactive muscles allowing other muscles to do their job. Sustained pressure on a muscle is believed to affect the interstitial receptors in the muscle which affects the tone of the muscle.
This decrease in neural drive to the rolled muscle allows for proper muscle activation of other muscles and aids in proper movement of the human movement system.
Proper movement will decrease your risk for injury in daily life and your sport and increase sport performance. Added blood flow to a recently rolled muscle may even help with recovery too.
When we look at what science has to say about foam rolling benefits, there’s limited research to be able to say whether or not foam rolling is effective.
Foam rolling used in practice though is found to be effective; especially in combination with stretching after to decrease neural drive to a specific muscle and lengthen a specific muscle.
Overall, foam rolling is widely accepted to be effective in relieving muscle tension, decreasing neural drive to overactive muscles, and potentially helping with recovery. These benefits aren’t only limited to foam rolling benefits in bodybuilding, but to foam rolling benefits of the general public as well.
Bodybuilding is all about muscle hypertrophy in the right places. Therefore a great mind muscle connection is a key player.
If a joint is out of alignment or you have limited mobility, your workout will suffer along with your results. This could be because an altered joint angle is setting you up for injury, hindering your mind muscle connection, or not allowing you to do the exercises you want to do and need.
Foam rolling gives you the ability to shut off the muscles that want to do the work but shouldn’t. This allows you to move properly and get the best possible muscle gains without any complications.
For example, one of the hip flexor muscles referred to as the Tensor Fascia Latae (TFL) commonly takes over for the glutes.
Foam rolling this muscle before glute work may be beneficial for some people and allow them to better activate the glutes. especially for someone such as a runner. The common cause of runner’s knee is tight hip flexors and weak glutes.
All in all, foam rolling benefits in bodybuilding include:
There’s actually a few variables to keep in mind when foam rolling. This section is going to cover everything you need to know on how to foam roll properly to get the maximum foam rolling benefits in bodybuilding and in general.
The first step to foam rolling properly is picking the right foam roller. Most gyms will have a few different options to choose from.
If you’re new to foam rolling, a softer foam roller is typically going to be the best foam roller for you. If you’re a bit more adept at foam rolling a specific area, moving up to a firmer foam roller may be a better fit.
You’ll also want to take into account how tight the area is that you will be rolling. If the area you will be rolling is very tight, again a soft foam roller will be an ideal place to start. Foam rolling isn’t supposed to feel good, but it doesn’t need to be extremely painful either to reap the foam rolling benefits in bodybuilding.
You’ll want to find a solid surface to foam roll on unlike carpet or grass. Foam rolling can be done at anytime of the day. Most will choose to do it before their workouts though and this is what I would recommend.
When foam rolling any muscle of the body, you need to roll very slowly over the muscle. Rolling too fast will excite the muscle which is the opposite of what we want to do.
During this slow rolling period, you’ll find areas of the muscle that are tight and areas of the muscle that are not tight.
After a few slow passes over the muscle, you’ll want to pause and hold on the tightest area or “trigger point”. If you’re new to foam rolling, a pause of 30 seconds will be sufficient. If you’re more adept to foam rolling, pausing on the tight area for 45-seconds to a minute and a half will be beneficial.
You can do as many trigger points as you would like. It will also be important to do a few slow passes before and after each pause on a selected trigger point.
Although stretching after foam rolling isn’t required, it can be extremely beneficial and is recommended!
Stretching can be viewed as an inhibition technique in the same way as foam rolling. This means stretching can decrease neural drive to the muscle stretched.
You may also be wondering now if pre-exercise stretching will affect your strength and power in your workout. From what we know now, yes, pre-exercise stretching will decrease strength and power in your workout.
The key difference here though is that the muscles you will be rolling and stretching need to be inhibited for better movement. This in turn will actually benefit your workout and results in the long run!
A few variables need to be taken into consideration when trying to figure out how to pick the best foam roller. This includes: experience, tightness of the muscles to be rolled, and the muscles that are going to be rolled.
When it comes to the foam roller itself, you’ll want one that’s durable and that will hold its shape after many uses.
For a beginner, the best foam roller will be one that’s long for better stability making an easier learning process and one that’s soft so the rolling isn’t too painful.
Below are two great options. The shorter foam roll is a great choice for portable use!
Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
If you’re more intermediate at foam rolling, the best foam roller is going to be firmer to get deeper into the tissue. Below are two great foam rollers depending on your use.
If you’re advanced in foam rolling and need the next step up to get deeper into the tissue, the best foam roller will have knobs or ridges.
Below are a few great options depending on if you want one for portable use or use in the same location as well as the texture you would prefer.
Foam rolling benefits in bodybuilding primarily all stem from one thing: inhibiting overactive muscles. From here, all the other benefits fall into place. You can say too that faster recovery is potentially a benefit as well.
Now that you have the tools on how to foam roll properly, you can make these benefits work for you!
Proper foam rolling techniques ensures that foam rolling is good for you and ultimately that you’re reaping the foam rolling benefits in bodybuilding.
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