Should foam rolling be painful?

Just like any soreness you would feel during a fitness routine, the same rule will apply to foam rolling. It should not be PAINFUL to the point that you tense up, want to cry or call a doctor. If the later are the case cease immediately and seek the help of a professional to find the root cause.

With that being said, foam rolling is not a "comfortable" feeling, but it should not be "painful". I call it a "good-pain". And the after-affect should leave you feeling more relaxed and less tense and tight.

If you aren't sure if you are using your foam roll correctly, please seek the help of a personal trainer in your area to teach you the proper foam rolling techniques.

Foam rolling can be painful. The reason is that when you add load to an overactive muscle the feeling can be relatively tender. We suggest that as long as you have had some instruction on foam rolling and you don't have any of the contraindications it is okay to go through some pain as long as it doesn't exceed your tolerance levels. With my clients I have found foam rolling to sometimes be quite uncomfortable when it is most effective.

When first using a foam roller, it can be uncomfortable. For people who have a lot of muscle compensations due to long periods of sitting and inactivity, the foam roller can be quite painful. Through frequent use, you will reduce the discomfort significantly, and eventually the roller will have the effect of a light massage. While counterintuitive, you should not avoid the foam roller in order to avoid pain. When used properly, it will actually re-energize your muscles and help reduce pain.

Here are some helpful tips if you find foam rolling to be uncomfortable or painful. 

1) Make sure, initially, to use a softer roller. You can create even more protection for yourself by using the roller on a soft carpet. Over time, as your muscle tension decreases, you can graduate to a firm roller.

2) Make sure to breathe! This will allow your muscles to relax, which is ultimately, what you are trying to achieve while using the roller.

3) When you find a muscle that is too tight to bear, roll to the closest tolerable position, perhaps a half an inch lower, and hold that spot. The muscle will still get the release that it needs, and the tightest areas of the muscle will loosen as the muscle itself moves back into proper alignment.

4) Roll frequently! By rolling daily, while watching TV or getting ready for bed, your muscles are able to properly realign. This will allow them to be more engaged while exercising; ultimately giving them the strength they need to do their job more effectively. As a result, you will have more comfort throughout your entire body, and better success with your program.

Yes and No. Most of my clients tell me that it is a good hurt. Now what does that mean? Well it can be very uncomfortable at first, but let me tell you that after a week or two you will be able to feel the difference in the quality of not only your tissue, but also the quality of your workouts.

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I would not say painful, but there will be some discomfort. That discomfort is the foam roll trying to break up the tension. After 20-30 seconds you should start to feel some relief on that muscle. A fitness professional can help you determine the muscles that need to be foam rolled and how to perform foam rolling to make sure it is done safely.

Especially when you first start using the foam roll it may be very uncomfortable.  Some areas are more sensitive than others.  However, you should be using your body weight to tollerance so that it is not painful.  As you find spots that are more tender than others, hold it there for about thirty seconds so that area of tension can release.  As you release these areas of tension, using the foam roll should feel better. 

Foam rolling can be painful in the beginning. As you roll yourself, the pain is telling you where you have muscle adhesions or "knots" to be worked out. Some areas may be pain free, others may make your eyes water. Hold the roller on the painful spot for at least 30 seconds, then roll on. It may take several sessions with your roller before you are pain free, but it will happen.
Foam rolling can be uncomfortable especially in certain spots on the body.  Foam rolling the IT bands (outer thighs) and piriformis (glutes) are two spots that are sensitive when you first start to foam roll.  Foam rollers come in different sizes and shapes, and there are softer ones for the beginner and harder ones as you progress and are able to better manage the discomfort.

Foam rolling maybe slightly uncomfortable; however, if it feels too painful you will tense up and get the opposite of the desired effect. When you foam roll, the goal is to help relax and relieve tension in the muscles, much like a massage. Consider making the surface you are lying or sitting on softer (double up the exercise mats, or roll on carpet). The softer surface lessens the pressure the roller is exerting on the muscle. Other hand-held rollers are also useful because you decide how much pressure to exert on the muscles, instead of relying solely on your body weight.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.