Foam Rolling Is Not Massage

foam rolling isn't massageAsk anyone who foam rolls and gets massage if they are the same thing.  I bet they’ll say no.  The most obvious reason is one is performed by a person and the other well it’s a piece of foam (hard foam).  And, they don’t feel the same.  There simply is no replacement for the human touch.  Second, the end result is totally different.  Don’t believe me?  The next time you are sore, have a nasty knot, or broke yourself in some way go get a massage.  Then the next time you do it again, foam roll.  Do your own test and let me know what you think.

Foam Rolling is More Like Stretching

Foam rolling is more like stretching, neither the mind or the body wants to do them.  The result of both is greater range of motion but the soreness, localized knot usually remains.  Then you have to do more work to relieve that piece.  Whereas with massage it handles all of that.  It gives you the greater range of motion, as well as a decrease in pain.  Not only that, your mind and body want to do massage.  Massage simply feels good and is effective at getting rid of knots and soreness.

Why is this?

Well, why is this?  Because massage produces endorphins, the feel good hormone.  Massage can be painful at times but the body and mind perceive it as a much more effective way of relieving tension than say foam rolling.  The body is much more likely to heal itself faster too because it is much more relaxed and the mind knows where exactly to send those little white blood cells that heal those injuries.  Finally, the results after a massage are longer lasting than those after a rolling session.

Should I just get massages?

Does this mean you should give up foam rolling and stretching?  Absolutely not.  These are great maintenance protocols.  Most people can’t afford nor have the time to get massages everyday or every time they have an injury but they can stretch everyday to prevent injuries.  I’m not anti foam rolling or stretching.  Matter of fact, the opposite.  I recommend these things to my clients all the time.  My point is if you’re someone who hops on a foam roller after brutalizing your body maybe one of those times you should try getting a massage.  I think you’d be pleasantly surprised.  

Here’s one of the best full body foam rolling videos ever!

Hi. I’m Felicia. I’ve made a 20+ year career of massage and bodywork. And, I still love it. I also enjoy writing, playing music, photography, cooking, baking and painting. All of which I’m not very good at. I’m also a daily bike commuter.

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