Foam Rolling – Why it Sucks

Why Foam Rolling sucks

This article highlights why I feel foam rolling is misused for strength athletes. Brian, how could foam rolling be misused? That’s easy! As discussed in 10/20/Life, you should have a specific purpose for everything you do in the gym. And, if you cannot answer the question, “Why am I doing this,” I feel you should rethink what you are doing and adjust.

Even good things like foam rolling suck

Too much of a good thing or a good thing misused can be a detriment. Ever heard of the phrase ‘the road to hell is paved with good intentions?’ Just because you feel something is good for you doesn’t mean it actually is good for you! As a result, you can end up wasting your time and setting yourself back. But instead, the key is the correct application and the right dosage. This adage will apply to medication, food, and exercise.

So what’s the key to successful foam rolling therapy?

The key to successful soft tissue therapy is timing, dosage, and location. What you don’t want to do is roll directly before your training. Like massage therapy and chiropractic adjustments, getting a massage before you train can sedate you (unless it is a stimulating sports massage) and instead of stimulating you, it will make you relax. You don’t want this before lifting big weight. It can not only mess you up mentally but also being too loose and limber while trying to lift a big weight can lead to injury and poor performance. Looseness is the enemy of power!

Foam Roll with these suggestions

Instead, foam roll on your off days or after your training session. Feel free to roll your hips, lats, pecs, quads, and ITBs. Even your upper back. Massage therapy is expensive; I get it., I used to work as a massage therapist for ten years. So, if you can find ways to address tissue that needs to be addressed with foam rolling strategies, then you are ahead of the game. But, one thing I don’t suggest is for you to foam roll your lower back in the name of trying to remove paint or tightness. It would help if you addressed this with the book Back Mechanic. And from there, Gift of Injury and scheduling a Virtual consult to help you navigate.

I do foam roll!

Foam rolling is not inherently bad; it all will depend on your application. Those that are loose and mobile already will not need this. Also, some of those who read “Supple Leopard” assume they should be as mobile as possible. Not true. I foam roll what needs to be addressed and nothing more. I never do it to be as loose as possible. Everything for a strength athlete needs to be fine-tuned like a racecar. Too much of one thing can get you out of balance and sabotage your entire pursuit of strength. Don’t let something like foam rolling and the timing set you back from your pursuit of ultimate strength.

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Brian Carroll

Owner and Founder at PowerRackStrength.com
Brian is a retired world-class powerlifter with over two decades of world-class powerlifting. From 1999 to 2020, Brian Carroll was a competitive powerlifter, one of the most accomplished lifters in the sport's history. Brian started off competing in bench press competitions 'raw,' then, shortly into the journey, he gravitated toward equipped lifting as there were no "raw" categories then. You only had to choose from single-ply (USPF) and Multi-ply (APF/WPC). Brian went on to total 2730 at 275 and 2651 at 242 with more than ten times his body weight in three different classes (220, 242, 275), and both bench pressed and deadlifted over 800 pounds in two other weight classes. He's totaled 2600 over 20 times in 2 different weight classes in his career. With 60 squats of 1000lbs or more officially, this is the most in powerlifting history, regardless of weight class or federation, by anyone not named David Hoff. Brian realized many ups and downs during his 20+ years competing. After ten years of high-level powerlifting competition and an all-time World Record squat at 220 with 1030, in 2009, Brian was competing for a Police academy scholarship. On a hot and humid July morning, Brian, hurdling over a barricade at 275lbs, landed on, fell, and hurt his back. After years of back pain and failed therapy, Brian met with world-renowned back specialist Prof McGill in 2013, which changed his trajectory more than he could have imagined. In 2017, Brian Carroll and Prof McGill authored the best-selling book about Brian's triumphant comeback to powerlifting in Gift of Injury. Most recently (10.3.20) -Brian set the highest squat of all time (regardless of weight class) with 1306 lbs – being the first man to break the 1300lb squat barrier at a bodyweight of 303 lbs.
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