The Foam Roller Debate

Author: Toni Sullivan


This article came to my attention this week and, well as a massage therapist I must say I took great offense to the FIRST LINE!


So in my experience both as a massage therapist and also as a gym goer I know the benefits of foam rolling.  It does help to warm up and lengthen the fascia and muscles. It is great for keeping mobility in the spine for those of us who need it (mothers carrying babies and children around – this is for you trust me) and as I deal with a number of high performance athletes who travel a lot to compete – this is a great tool to be able to carry with you (much cheaper than taking your massage therapist – although I’m more than happy to travel with you :-).

But to suggest that Foam Rolling is a cheap replacement for massage therapy! Well to say I’m offended would be a little of an understatement!

Your foam roller is an inanimate object and in my experience most people are not willing to use the same amount of pressure with a foam roller as a massage therapist can.

A foam roller cannot tell you that the pain in your calves is possibly coming from your back.

A foam roller cannot assess you for imbalances.

A foam roller cannot vary the pressure when needed

A foam roller cannot spot any differences in your skin (as I work on people regularly I can tell them if they have dry patches or any changes to moles or freckles that may need to be checked out)

A foam roller cannot look at your posture and see where your referred pain might be coming from

A foam roller cannot be a listening ear (as we often are)

and a foam roller certainly cannot do trigger point therapy they way a trained professional can.


So although your gym or personal trainer may want to sell you a foam roller and tell you won’t need massages anymore so that you can spend more time and money training with them.  Please consider the ACTUAL benefits you get from a massage.  The healing touch, the warmth of hands, the professional who knows and discusses with you the issues you are facing during training or everyday life, and the best way to address those. And also often just the time to do something for yourself and have someone else care for you.

2 Responses to “The Foam Roller Debate”

  1. Trevor Chisman Says:

    Very well said!
    As a massage therapist I often recommend clients use a foam roller, it’s an excellent tool for between sessions to get some daily less focused work done and as you mention they make excellent travel tools especially the hollow ones which can be stuffed full of your gym clothes in your travel bag. But a cheap replacement for a good massage therapist they definitely are not and never will be.

  2. massage in essex Says:

    Hi great site. I thought massage chelmsford might be of interest as it discusses some similar guides. Anyway keep up the good work, I found this to be very informative