When should you foam roll (or p-knot)?

When should you foam roll?

Is there a best time when you should foam roll?

Timing is everything, right?  In the case of adopting the daily practice of foam rolling anytime is good.  The health benefits of Self Myofascial Release justifies making it a daily habitual routine.  As long as you can make the time to foam roll you are increasing your vitality, but there are personal strategies and tactics to think about depending on when you roll. Here is a list of benefits for rolling out at different times in the day.

First thing in the morning

We tend to sleep in poor positions that tax our posture.  Not only that, but we usually are in that one position for hours at a time. The still body will start to create our fascial netting to rebuild itself around our sleep positions.  Waking up and foam rolling for a few minutes will help to stimulate the body to naturally unwind the tightness in the areas that sleep created. It will also help to wake up your Central Nervous System giving you a more alert morning. Heck, you probably will forget about the morning coffee until the mid morning.  If you are the type of person who wakes up with plenty of time before starting the demands of the day, then I recommend that you give the first 15 waking minutes to “self” and foam roll.  Your body, mind, and spirit will thank you.  If you are not a morning person, I suggest that you do not stress yourself out with trying to add this into your morning ritual.  The first time you miss the morning foam rolling routine you will feel defeated going into the start of your day.  No one wants to start off their day feeling unsuccessful.  However, if you find yourself up one morning earlier than you have to be, I recommend you give a morning foam roll a try.

Before a workout/exercise/game:

Doing a 10-15 minute foam rolling session before you engage in activity such as working out, going for a run, playing a sport, or any other game that requires human movement is a must in my opinion.  Plato said, “the beginning is the most important part of the work.” Foam rolling before putting your posture in motion (acture) will increase circulation which will warm the muscles, ligaments, and tendons, and increase the synovial fluid of the joints.  Foam rolling will also connect your mind and body which will give the Central Nervous System a heads up that activity is about to happen. A lot of people do little to nothing to warm up before their fitness routines, and then get hurt.  Last I checked when you engage in activity with the goal of increased fitness, getting hurt is not including in that goal.  In fact, one of the criteria of becoming fit is to minimize the risk of injury. Take your devoted drive of becoming healthier and put that energy into the prehab. Foam rolling will get your muscles activated allowing for smoother movement patterns.  Your joints will thank you.

After a workout/exercise/game

It is always a good idea to cool down the body.  Depending on what parts of your body had the most overload, adding foam rolling after will help to bring the muscle tension back down to normal.  Spending 5 minutes to foam roll the more tensile areas will allow you to recover faster.  Adding foam rolling as the start of your cool down will help push the lactic acid built up in your bloodstream allowing for the metabolic waste to circulate out of the body faster.  I recommend doing just a few minutes so that you can leave time to do some gentle stretching or yoga.

Mid-day Break

During your mid day break is probably one of the best times to sneak in some foam rolling.  I know that typically the break is short lived before getting back to work, but while you check your social medias and make your personal phone calls, getting down on the foam roller at the same time will help undo the current damage of the day. If your job requires sitting or standing, the postural damage of these overused positions will begin to reek havoc on the body.  Spend a few minutes, or spend the entire break, just take some time to realign your fascia.  In addition, tension from stress at the workplace can reduce the proper patterns of breathing.  Since Self Myofascial Release has a meditative property to it, foam rolling during the mid-day break will help get you through the afternoon with a clear mind.  Increase your productivity while saving your body from postural break downs that lead us into pain; take a few minutes to foam roll on your mid-day break.

Arriving home from work

Most of us have built up mental, physical, and physiological stresses from the work day.  The traffic jams, errands, and figuring out the plan for dinner only makes a long day longer.  One of the first things we do when we get through the threshold of our humble abode is to seek out a release.  It may be conscious or unconscious, but we all look for an outlet to decompress.  Some of these outlets are healthy and some are not so healthy, but we inherently will find a way to “punch out”.  In an ideal world, the first thing you should upon arriving at home from work is to spend time foam rolling to undo the day.  Undo the postural damages, undo the mental clutter, and undo demeanor that collected throughout the day.  I realize however that dinner might need to be started, or the dog taken for a walk.  All of life’s responsibilities makes it hard or even unlikely to spend time foam rolling when you first get home.  But we can however try to implement it around our post work day duties.  At the very least, if you are finally done with the day and are about to relax to a movie or book, adding foam rolling to the relax part of the day adds the benefits of Self Myofascial Release.

Before Bed

If you are like me, one minute it is 7pm and the next minute it is 12:30am and way past the planned bedtime.  This is where you probably should just go to bed.  If this is you, try to add a foam rolling session in during your relax time, your hobby time, or whatever that time is that is between getting home from work and going to bed.  Foam rolling before bed is something you should strive to plan ahead and do.  For those who stick to a bedtime and have nightly rituals, try implementing 20-30 minutes of total body foam rolling before climbing into bed.  Self Myofascial Release before bed will release the last of day’s tensions and clear your mind so that you can sleep deeper and quicker.

Conclusion

Self Myofascial Release is a lifestyle.  Finding time to implement foam rolling is based upon an individual’s current day-to-day schedule.  It is also based upon an individual’s motivation and dedication to adopt this healthy habit into the day.  There is no right or wrong time to foam roll.  In fact if you can foam roll multiple times a day, GO FOR IT.  For those who say “I don’t have time” then please reconsider after reading the above scenarios of times to foam roll.  If you can not make time for health, wellness, and vitality for just even 5 minutes a day ( I will keep my comments to myself here )…

In all seriousness, the best time to foam roll is when it is best for you. What works best for you will increase the likelihood of being consistent.  I hope this has given some insight to those who ask the question “when should I foam roll” and inspire all of you to make it a priority to get a daily dose of Self Myofascial Release.

Ethan Plante
Ethan Plante

Ethan's primary role is educating P-Knotters. His favorite P-Knot Move is the Grab and Pull in the hamstrings from a deficit using a UniSphere.

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