When it’s Critical to Foam Roll as a Runner

When it’s Critical to Foam Roll as a Runner

You just did it again.  You finished up your run and rushed off to the shower.  You saw that foam roller, hesitated…considered grabbing it, rolling out those muscles.  But you just don’t have time.

I get it.  You have a busy day.

You have to get to work.  Or maybe your kids are demanding your attention.  And this run already took longer than you intended.

You have things to do.

But there are times when it is absolutely critical to foam roll as a runner.

If you know you should roll it out, but you skip it more times than you roll it, read on.

I want you to foam roll before and after every run, but if you can’t, at least know when you should not skip your foam roll.

Before a Race

You’ve worked hard for race day.  You’ve been training for months.

But running puts a lot of stress on your muscles and joints.  Foam rolling is a great restorative exercise that helps prevent injuries, such as a pulled muscle, during your race.

So don’t skip it.

How does foam rolling work?

Think of foam rolling as a deep tissue muscle message, but only, without the hefty price.

Wouldn’t it be great to start and end your race with a message like that?

Foam rolling targets the myofascial adhesions that develop from the stress of running.  Fascia is a type of muscle tissue that wraps around and bundles the muscles together.

When you run, you put stress on these tissues. These tissues, then, form ‘knots’, or myofascial adhesions.

These knots can be painful.  They can also limit your range of motion and cause muscle imbalance.  Your body automatically tries to correct for this, but that often leads to injury.

It’s pretty easy to prevent myofascial adhesions, however.  All you have to do is foam roll before you run.

One study from the National Center of Biotechnology Information found that foam rolling increases your range of motion by 4.3%.

Foam rolling is designed to break down these knots that limit your range of motion.  It also stimulates your muscles.  This warms up your muscles, increases the blood flow and boosts circulation.

Increased blood flow means increased oxygen flow, improving muscle elasticity.

If you foam roll, it means your muscles are ready to go!  You can hit the ground running when that gun goes off.

After an Intense Workout

Another time you should never skip foam rolling is after a particularly intense workout.  I know you are super busy, but it’s important.

Hear me out.

You know that fartlek’s, tempos and intervals really take a major toll on your body.  More so than a normal run.  But foam rolling is a great way to speed up your recovery process.

This is because foam rolling can help ease the muscle pain and soreness after your workout.

It relieves the tension from those myofascial adhesions, or knots, in your muscles. This reduces the pain and soreness you feel after your run.

It also dramatically increases blood flow and oxygen to your muscles.  This reduces your recovery time, bringing relief to your sore legs much faster.

And did you know foam rolling can even prevent new knots from forming?  That deep tissue message can keep your muscles supple, which is important as you build new muscle.

It’s best to foam roll after every run, but if you have to occasionally skip a roll, don’t skip foam rolling after your hard workouts.

After Doing a Recovery Run

Recovery runs are meant for, well, recovery.

If you are taking the time to do a recovery run, then you should take the time to foam roll as well.

A recovery run is a short, easy run that you take after one or more hard runs.  Plus, recovery run also increases your recovery speed.

The goal of a recovery run is to protect your body from the risk of injury.  They keep you from overtraining and hurting yourself.

Foam rolling does the same things.  If you are running a light recovery run to reduce injury and ease muscle pain, it only makes sense that you’d take three to five minutes to foam roll as well.

So, don’t skip this one.  If you need the recovery run, you need the foam roller.


I know it can be hard to squeeze those runs into an already over-packed schedule.  Runners often skip warmups, cool downs and stretching because they just don’t have the time.

Even though they know it is detrimental.

But foam rolling isn’t something you should skip.

It reduces your chances of injury and helps you to recover from your run so much faster.

Still, if you really can’t roll it out after every run, then be sure to roll it out after a recovery run, after an intense workout and before a race.

These are some of the most important times to roll out those muscles.

And you don’t even have to pay a masseuse.