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Author: Richard Symister

Foam Rolling 101: “Should foam rolling always hurt?”

I’m totally guilty of following the old gym axiom of “no pain no gain”. And when it came to the foam rolling, I fully believed that if it did not hurt, then I was not doing anything productive. Of course, this theory was total bullsh#t! Let me explain why this concept is wrong, outdated, and can be potentially hazardous to your workout and training performance.

Pain tells us that something is wrong. It’s a signal to our brain that puts our body on alert.  One of the goals of foam rolling is to deregulate or calm down oversensitive nerves and receptors in the muscles that may be leading to your pain, tightness, or micro spasms. We want those coked-out jackrabbits with machine guns to turn into tortoises smoking a bong while watching Bob Ross.

Increasing your pain foam rolling can limit your movement fluidity and your muscle’s ability to generate force; i.e. You might f#@k up your performance. 


  • Ignore your pain.
  • Increase your pain.
  • Increase swelling or inflammation.
  • Guess about an injury, self-diagnose an injury, or experiment with foam rolling an injury.


  • Breathe. Hopefully, you are not holding your breath, shrugging your shoulders, or gritting your teeth. Relaxed breathing equals relaxed muscles, and relaxed muscles are much better prepared for stretching and movement than tense ones. 
  • Start out gently. It’s ok to use a less aggressive roller and then gradually to a greater density later. See the Rumble Roller on our Amazon Wish List.
  • Roll out and short durations of 30 to 90 seconds per body part. Later, as you monitor your body’s response, you can add time. 
  • Target particularly sensitive areas to release tension and enhance blood perfusion. But STOP if the pain does not dissipate after 30 seconds of rolling   
  • Find a specialist who understands common sports injuries and what to do about them, and can guide you toward the most efficient and effective way to foam roll without damaging tissue or f#%cking up your training.

Check out the rest of my fact-filled blogs in the Foam Rolling 101 series below.

Heal. Move. ROLL. Evolve.