Rolling or Stretching? Which Techniques Should You Use?

Using a foam roller as a massage technique

Should you use a foam roller or do stretching exercises as part of your pre-workout or post-workout routine? There are many arguments for both techniques. In this post, we’ll look at the benefits of both and how you can use them as part of your workout to aid muscle warmup and relief. Using a combination of techniques will allow you to get the benefits of both, giving your workout an extra boost.

The Benefits of Stretching Exercises?

The aim of stretching exercises is to improve the range of motion, to train the body in extended muscle movement prior to exercise. Your muscles may contract through the lack of movement that you will experience during relaxation, day to day movement or through injury or inflammation. Stretching techniques will aim to prepare your body for extended movement pre-workout. This is opposed to rolling exercises where the aim is to release the underlying muscles.

Regular and careful stretching exercises could elongate the muscles and tissues and make them supple, strong and flexible. They could also be helpful in improving the range of motion. Range of motion often gets disturbed or inhibited because of injuries and damages to muscles, joints, ligaments, and tissues. It is advised that you follow your trainers’ advice and follow a programme of static and dynamic stretching exercises and workouts. Dynamic stretching exercises are about moving the body around while doing the stretching exercises. On the other hand, static stretch exercises are done while holding a static or stationary position. Both have their own benefits and advantages provided they are done the right way.

The Benefits of Rolling Exercises

If you are not sure about the negative impact of stretching exercises or if you have suffered a ligament tear or a muscle injury then it might be better to choose foam rolling workouts. This is a form of self-massage where deep compression is used. Rolling is essentially a form of self-myofascial release. The objective is to roll the muscular structures. It is generally used to target those muscles, tissues, and ligaments that could be causing pain and discomfort. It could also be used when there is a limited range of motion because of injuries, inflammation and other causes. It has helped many people who have been suffering from muscular imbalances, and/or restricted flexibility.

Rolling has its own benefits and uses. It could help in giving relief from muscular tension and also to remove adhesions or clumps that might have formed. Rolling exercises could play a big role in improving a range of motion quite significantly. Muscle fibre softening is also another big benefit associated with rolling. It is recommended by many sports trainers because it could help to stimulate tissues and muscles and make them ready for activity again.

There is a variety of equipment that could be used for self-massage using rolling techniques. Apart from foam rollers, you also could use self-massage sticks, trigger balls and other such items. However, as with all treatments, you must check with your doctor, trainer or physiotherapist first, to decide as to the right equipment or device to choose.

Which Option To Choose

While both stretching and rolling have their own benefits and perhaps also shortcomings, they can work together well to make a great pre and post-workout routine. In studies conducted stateside, it was found that whilst rolling and stretching both had benefits, combining them led to an optimum effect.

If you can do both, try some rolling, then some dynamic stretches before a workout. Then follow up with some static stretches after a workout. Build this into your daily workout routine, both inside and outside your gym schedule.