What is foam rolling?

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By Tamara Akcay

We’ve seen athletes use foam rollers before and/or after a workout. We’ve been contemplating the idea of using one but we’re not sure when or how to do so.

What is a foam roller?

It looks like a tube and is made out of foam and can have different textures and colors. It is a tool used for SMR, which stands for Self Myofascial Release scientific term for self-massage. By positioning the body in a certain way, the foam roller can help release muscle tightness and soreness.


By applying our own weight onto the foam roller, we are applying pressure to certain points of our body. These points are called trigger points. They are knots, and when we work on them with the foam roller, we improve blood flow in our muscles and decrease local soreness.

Side effects

It is perfectly normal that we experience pain when using the foam roller as we are literally breaking up the knots in our muscles. Not all of our body will feel tight and sore. As we are self-massaging, we will discover knots here and there. By gently applying pressure, we will be able to relax the muscle and enhance our performance.


Foam rolling is not a miracle remedy for sore muscles. Sometimes, spending too much time on it will only create more tightness depending on how we lay on it. We have to make sure we are using it correctly. Foam rolling is not a replacement for stretching and improving mobility. It is not compulsory to use a foam roller before and after a workout.

When is it recommended to use it?

When our body feels tight, foam rolling can be an effective way to detect the knots and work onto or around the tight, sore area. Therefore, there are no specific times when it is advised to use the foam roller, as it cannot harm performance. It depends on a general feeling, the type of workout we’ve been doing, and how bad we wish to get rid of a knot.


We will find tight and painful areas by rolling up and down with different parts of our body. Once we’ve spotted a knot, we need to pause for 5 to 30 seconds and relax as much as possible. We should then feel a loosened muscle as opposed to a compact muscle.