Are foam rollers any good?


I’m doing so much training at the moment that, if were rich, I would have a massage every other day if I could. My shoulders and neck are suffering from getting used to my new bike position.  My arms and back are doing a lot of swimming – not really a problem but there are still things that could be smoothed out with a massage.  And my legs and glutes – well, you can imagine. They’re cycling and running and kicking and generally working very hard.

A friend and fellow massage therapist and I ‘swap’ massages every month which is great.  And I do have extra massages between the monthly ‘swaps’ regularly. But I still feel I could do with something more frequent.

I’ve researched The Stick and foam rollers which are advertised as self massage tools; and  I worry that the techniques that are supposed to be used with them are dodgy.  With legs and arms, massage strokes should always be towards the heart, so that blood and lymph are pushed in the direction that works with the non-return valves in the lymph and blood vessels.  Yet videos online show people sawing back and forth with The Stick as if they were rolling out pastry.  And with the foam roller we are told to roll our leg muscles  back and forth across the roller for best effect.

Hmm – not sure about that.

Anyway, I wanted to do what I can to self massage so I opted for the cheaper of the two products – the foam roller.

The jury’s still out, to be fair.  But I’m determined not to roll back and forth and ignore the ‘towards the heart’ rule which makes using it harder, probably, than it’s designed  to be.  Perhaps I haven’t worked out the best way of using it yet, but at the moment, I’m finding it hard work to take my bodyweight on my arms and shoulders so that I avoid the rolling back and forth business.  Because of this, I have to use – and therefore tense – some of the very muscles I’m  trying to work on.  That makes them harder to work on… and more painful.

So. We’ll see.  Lots of people swear by them, including physios so they can’t be all bad.

About the Author:Lou


  1. I totally believe in the foam rollers. You can check out my website and click on foam rolling on the NavBar to see my personal philosophy. I am 50+ and would never have been able to keep going if I didn’t have the foam roller. I go slow, and meditatively and find the ‘hot spots’ to focus on them. I do not move back and forth quickly, but I do go back and forth to find the areas that need more pressure. It’s like a deep tissue massage, but it’s self-myofascial release. See my videos on the website and I hope you will be a convert!
    Happy meditative foam rolling to you!

  2. Elle Bieling

    Hello Lou,
    Would you please take down my link, on my name, from your blog post on 3-22-10? I am trying to increase my web traffic, after google released it’s new Penguin algorithm. I have too many inbound links pointing to my site though blog rolls. The link is on my name, to my website. Thank-you!

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