How foam rolling could improve your running - Women's Running

How foam rolling could improve your running

Author: Holly Taylor

Read Time:   |  September 23, 2020

Your muscles will thank you for this one...

Possibly one of the most misunderstood pieces of gym equipment is the humble foam roller. You may have seen people writhing around on the floor with anguished faces while rolling a spiky torture device over their body, but what is it for? Does it really work? The experts at Meglio are here to explain why you should be adding foam rolling to your weekly training regime to help improve your running as well as your recovery.

Foam rolling improves flexibility

As runners, it’s highly beneficial to have flexibility and full range of motion in our muscles and joints so that we can run with good form and reduce our risk of injury. Many studies have concluded that adding foam rolling to your warm-up routine can improve short-term flexibility and increase the range of movement, which suggests positive benefits for runners. Studies have also shown that foam rolling can increase muscle flexibility which reduces tightness, increases range of motion, and allows you to run better.

Foam rolling can also break down knots in your muscles which can prepare them for stretching. Knots in your muscles are caused by inflammation which can be worsened by intense workouts and long runs. By foam rolling regularly, you will increase the benefits of your pre- and post-run stretching and soothe tight muscles.

Foam rolling reduces DOMS

The experts at Harvard Medical School say that just a few minutes of rolling each day can help make your muscles more receptive to stretching as well as relieving some of that muscle soreness you may be feeling. Michael Bento, a personal trainer at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital, has been using foam rolling with his clients for over 25 years and swears by its benefits. As well as using foam rolling as part of your warm-up, adding it into your cool-down can also be highly valuable.

DOMS stands for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness and refers to that achy feeling you might have in the days after a tough workout or run. It’s perfectly natural and is a sign that your body is healing, but speeding up the process means you can get back to training more quickly. Studies have found that just 20 minutes of foam rolling in the days following a leg strength training session may decrease the effects of DOMS, and that even a quick 10-minute foam roll could immediately reduce DOMS for up to 30 minutes. All of the studies exploring whether foam rolling after exercise reduces the symptoms of DOMS have concluded that it does, which is good news if you want to get back out there and run!

Foam rolling increases blood flow

There have been many studies to explore and analyse how foam rolling can affect blood flow and the way it circulates through our soft tissue. While some researchers expected the effects to only last a short time – up to 30 minutes – testing has concluded that foam rolling can improve blood flow by almost 74% which is a significant amount. Even 30 minutes after foam rolling, blood flow in participants in one study was still up over 53% compared to resting conditions.

So why is this advantageous to you as a runner? Well, good circulation allows a healthy flow of oxygen around the body which contributes to the healthy and efficient function of your vital organs such as your lungs, heart and muscles. With these firing well, your running performance will be significantly improved. It has been proven that women are more prone to having poor circulation over men due to a smaller body size, hormones, and lower metabolic rate, so encouraging improved blood flow and circulation by foam rolling is a great way to close that gap.

To find out more about Meglio and their range of home fitness kit, visit

Written by

Holly Taylor

Holly Taylor

Holly Taylor is the digital editor of Women’s Running and co-host of the Women’s Running podcast, where she shares her running journey as well as the inspiring stories of women runners all over the country. She’s never been the sporty type, but running is the first time she’s felt real joy in getting active. She loves talking about running with a community of inclusive and supportive runners, and Women's Running is the perfect space for this. She's currently aiming for a half marathon PB!

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