There are so many different techniques out there for recovery. Which ones work and which ones are the proverbial snake oil? Foam rollers are tried and true tools that many athletes, coaches, and therapists believe in, but do they actually work? Is it a viable alternative to a massage?
The first time I ever saw a foam roller was in 2007 during a stage race. I was hanging out with a fellow racer after a stage and he busted one out. He was a physical therapist and did a great job explaining what it was all about and showed me some exercises. I tried it and darn near cried as I attempted to roll some areas of my very sore legs. He helped me with my technique and assured me I would get better at it with practice. Shortly after, my chiropractor gave me one to use on my “trouble areas.” While there are times that I need to be more consistent with my foam rolling, I’ve stuck with it since then for the most part and find it very beneficial. I’ve learned to make it into a “good” hurt, now able to control how deep I make the massage.
Here are five resources I found that I thought would be beneficial as related to foam rolling.
First, this article on Cycling Weekly really covers the concept of myofascial release and foam rolling from soup to nuts:
Foam Rollers Positive Effect
Second, an article on TrainingPeaks that talks about why, when and how:
Why, when, and how to use a foam roller
Next, a graphic of some of the most common exercises by the same author:
Fourth, a healthy discussion on the TrainerRoad podcast:
And finally, the most “sciencey” of them all, an in depth look by Dylan Johnson:
If you’re interested in giving it a try, make sure you educate yourself and seek out the guidance of a professional to teach you the exercises. You can then form your own opinion. Start slowly but stick with it. Hopefully you find it beneficial as well!
Do you foam roll? What other forms of myofascial release to you employ? Leave a comment or question below!
While rest is best, some recovery is indeed active.
Roll with purpose!
Coach B.L. is the head coach at BJL Coaching and an avid racer and cycling enthusiast himself.