Happiness is a foam roller. Or is it?

Athlete, Fitness, foamroller, foamrolling, Health, massage, Physio, Physiotherapy, runners, running, science, Sports

We’ve all seen people use those blue tubes of torture in the gym. You can roll your calves, you can roll your ITB (side of the thigh), hell, you can even roll your head – if you want to.  But is the torture of rolling really worth the pain?


Foam rolling and static stretching increase flexibility above either stretching or rolling in isolation (1, 2).  Additionally, it has also been shown that foam rolling increases flexibility, without impairing muscle force (3). This all sounds great and I bet you’re all about to rush out and buy a foam roller. Unfortunately, it appears that these changes in flexibility last no more than ten minutes(1)! Yikes.



Foam rolling immediately after exercise reduces post-exercise muscular soreness (DOMS) and improves performance in training (sprint time, endurance and power) in the days following (4).  Another study, found similar results but also noted changes in vertical leap in the days following rolling (5). Additionally, foam rolling might reduce fatigue after exercise (6).

Is it healthful:

Flexibility: At roughly AU$20 a roller, you’re paying a fair bit for a 10 minute change in flexibility. Although, if flexibility is important to your sport of choice, pre-game rolling might be worth your while.

Our verdict: Slightly healthful.

Sports performance: Foam rolling after exercise is likely to reduce soreness in the following days and will improve short term performance. This might lead to long-term improvements.  In this case, we feel the $20 is warranted.

 Our verdict: Moderately healthful. 

I hope this has been healthful!


26 thoughts on “Happiness is a foam roller. Or is it?

  1. Hi and ditto to the last comment. I will follow your blog with interest :-), I am very much interested in reviews of health products and think you have a great premise behind your blog. There is so much information out there it’s nice to know that someone can help us wade through all the smoke and mirrors .

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Plus, they are uncomfortably hard. I buy a nerf football, either regular size or the smaller one and use it to lay on to stretch out my upper back. I’m sure it could be used on other areas, too. Cost….$-7 bucks .

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I like the concept of your blog site. Informative, objective and easily readable. Looking forward to future reviews.
    Thank you for visiting my site. I am glad you enjoyed my article on type 2 diabetes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Jncthedc, really appreciate it.

      Based on your about page, my experiences regarding the Australian healthcare system seem to mirror your experiences of the American healthcare system – interesting.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for the like on my blog! http://sarahtinsley.com Foam rolling was recommended to me by a physio, not necessarily for flexibility but for working tension out of my muscles, as my quads were very stiff which was impacting on my knees. I’ve always found it really helpful, and regular use means I don’t have sore knees after running anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve been seeing a lot of foam rollers around and I am yet to try them. It’s nice to read something about them from a real person (as opposed to on selling sites) and I am glad I didn’t rush to buy one. I’ll keep my eye out but at $20 it is far from a priority. Thanks for this post :)!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a pleasure. Thanks for another comment!

      They’re so overpriced. If you’ve got some time on your hands you can make one with a bit of pvc pipe with a bit of yoga matt around it. PS the name of your blog is the best!

      Liked by 1 person

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