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Hot Foam Rolling for Better Fitness

The price for a quality deep tissue massage for 50 minutes is around $100-150 depending on where you are in the country. I sometimes hire a massage therapist for a deep tissue session when I am on vacation, but only when I don’t have access to a HOTWORX workout sauna. In my experience, I know that I can get a deep tissue massage on my own using foam roller. That being the case, why would I spend a hundred bucks, unless I just wanted that experience on a vacation.

When should a foam roller be used? At a minimum, you should practice foam rolling immediately following your workout, and I would recommend inside of an infrared sauna. Post workout foam rolling can enhance the recovery process, and especially in a heated environment to promote even greater muscle relaxation. Elite athletes foam roll to stimulate more blood flow which provides more oxygen to sore muscle fibers. There is evidence to prove that pre-workout foam rolling increases short term flexibility, so that is something to consider as well to improve workout performance.

Your body will tell you where you need to focus with your roller. Some muscles will be tighter with more fascial trigger points that need attention. Focus there until those muscles loosen up, or when those trigger points release the tension.

Smoothing out the knots in the fascia is important to increase flexibility and to improve workout muscle recovery.

Self myofacial release can be accomplished through foam rolling. Fascia are the tissues that connect muscles. “Fascia is defined as a sheet or band of fibrous connective tissue enveloping, separating, or binding together muscles, organs, and other tissues of the body.” (1)

Tightness and trigger points develop in the muscle fascia that need to be relaxed and lengthened to promote recovery and flexibility. Slow rolling over the trigger points with enough pressure to provide mild discomfort is best. Find the right level of pressure and apply it until the area becomes relaxed. This should take only 5-30 seconds for any area that you are working. Since fascia runs in all directions, I would recommend a knobby roller like the one in the photo at the top of this article. For some people this is too much, and in that case a smooth surface roller will work for them.

Current research demonstrates that foam rolling after your workout does indeed accelerate recovery. A compilation of this research was performed and reported in a Frontiers in Physiology article entitled, “A Meta-Analysis of the Effects of Foam Rolling on Performance and Recovery”.

The analysis concluded that: “The current review demonstrates that post-rolling recovers exercise-induced decreases in sprint and strength performance more quickly than passive recovery.” (2)

You should consider adding foam rolling to the end of each of your workouts! Your muscles will thank you.


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Stephen P. Smith, MA
CEO and Creator of HOTWORX, Author, Former National Collegiate Bodybuilding Champion and Arena Football Player, Certified Professional Trainer


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