Are Foam Rollers, Theraguns, and other soft tissue “release” tools, Worth Your Time?

Self-myofascial release (SMR) is a self-massage technique aimed at relieving muscle stiffness, decreasing soreness, and enhancing recovery.


Just searching “SMR” or foam rolling brings up a whole host of foam products in a variety of shapes, hardness, and sizes among other things.


They are widely believed to be a useful tool in both warming up and recovering from workouts as well as treating aches and pains yourself far and above any other treatment you may be receiving.


But what the evidence shows is quite interesting.


A meta-analysis of the effects of foam rolling shows that rolling before a workout can enhance performance and rolling afterward can alleviate muscle soreness.


The problem is that the actual effects of rolling on the human body and the mechanisms of how it works are not clear and don’t show any observable effects outside of a subjective reaction to it.


The study goes on to say that the psychological effects (whether they’re a placebo or not), warrant the use of foam rolling alone even in the absence of evidence of physiological benefits.


This ultimately means that sometimes people feel better when doing it, but there’s no evidence to suggest that it actually does anything. Rather, they just believe that it does something.


I personally haven’t foam rolled in years and work most of my mobility work into my strength training and have observed no difference in “stiffness” or “muscle soreness”. I’ve actually saved a lot of time by not spending 10-15 minutes before and after every workout rolling around.


Take this information how you will. If you’d like to read the meta-analysis yourself check out the link below.


To your good health,

-Coach Stephen


References:


https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6465761/


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