If you've been reading my blog for any amount of time, you'll probably realize that I love foam rolling. I've written about foam rolling in my favorite forms of post-run recovery and my top three gear must-haves. But why do I love foam rolling so much? Mostly, it's because I've seen an improvement in how I feel after a run once I started adding in foam rolling more regularly. I'm not feeling as stiff the day after a tough run and I really think it's because I'm making the time for foam rolling.
Of course, maybe I could be spending the same amount of time doing stretches and it would have a similar effect on how I feel post-run. But I feel like my soreness is usually deeper in my muscles and foam rolling targets that so much better. Especially when I get out my smaller foam roller with knobby bits on it. And, I can get at different angles than I would be able to with stretching especially when it comes to my hamstrings and glutes. It just works better to come at a problem spot from multiple angles and that's something you can't easily do with stretching.
I also feel like foam rolling is a lot easier than stretching. When I do stretches, I have to think back to high school gym class and remember the different stretches we did. With foam rolling, I just go back and forth on the roller. If I feel a tight spot, I try to move a couple of different ways while rolling to get at the tightness from different angles. And I just can't get into some spots with stretching. I tried forever to get the tightness out of my calves with stretching but it wasn't until I started seeing my massage therapist that I realized the issue wasn't the muscle but the fascia. And that's something that you need pressure to get at.
Of course, I still do some stretches to finish out my mobility work since it does feel good for my muscles. But the majority of my mobility time is spent on the foam rollers and I believe that's what kept me injury free. Mainly because it's more interesting to foam roll than stretch.
Foam rolling or stretching which one do you prefer?