Is it a good idea to foam roll before you test your vertical jump? Should you be foam rolling at all when it comes to vertical jump training? If you’re wondering whether foam rolling is a good idea as it relates to vertical jump training, you’ve found the right article.
Foam rolling directly before testing your vertical jump will not increase vertical jump performance, however foam rolling before VJ testing may still be a good idea. There’s also good reason to believe it has other longer term benefits which is why you should consider including foam rolling in your vertical jump training.
There’s actually a decent amount of research on the topic which we’ll dig into and I’ll also explain the best way to implement foam rolling into your vertical jump training routine.
What Does The Research Say?
There was a pretty recent study which tested whether foam rolling prior to vertical jump testing had an impact on jump height. The conclusion was that foam rolling made no significant positive or negative impact on vertical jump performance at all.1https://www.researchgate.net/publication/280936654_Effects_of_Foam_Rolling_on_Vertical_Jump_Performance
Another even more recent study compared the results of a general aerobic warm up with the addition of foam rolling, dynamic stretching, or both.2https://commons.und.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3331&context=theses The results corroborated with the earlier research by finding that incorporating foam rolling into your warm up has absolutely no impact on vertical jump performance.
So the good news is that foam rolling definitely isn’t going to harm your vertical jump performance. It’s not the same thing as static stretching which we know has a negative short term impact on vertical jump performance.3https://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/fulltext/2009/03000/effects_of_dynamic_and_static_stretching_on.21.aspx
So you’re free to foam roll before VJ testing and shouldn’t have to worry about underperforming because of it.
What Should You Do Before VJ Testing Instead Of Foam Rolling?
So if you’re about to test your vertical jump and want the best possible warm up for the biggest possible result, what should you do? We know that foam rolling isn’t going to impair our performance, but it’s certainly not going to help us much.
I will be writing a full article on best VJ warm up practices but in a nutshell, you at the very least want to do some sort of a general aerobic warm up or dynamic warm up. The idea is just to get the blood flowing and to wake the muscles up.
Cycling has been shown to have a positive impact on vertical jump as a warm up method, so jumping on the exercise bike before testing your vert is definitely going to be a decent idea.4https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26796077/
Another study compared four different types of warm up on VJ performance and found that the best warm up for vertical jump performance involved a weighted resistance warm-up where the subjects actually performed jumps with light dumbbells prior to jumping.5https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16095424/
I will be doing a much deeper dive into this research and other VJ warm up ideas in a forthcoming article, so keep an eye out for that.
Based off what the research shows, doing a weighted resistance warm up may offer the best vertical jump performance, but even just doing any dynamic stretching or light aerobic warm up will still give a good performance boost.
Why It’s Still A Good Idea To Foam Roll
As an athlete focused on improving your vertical jump, though not directly going to add inches, foam rolling can help immensely with recovery and flexibility which will allow you to train harder for longer, causing indirect vertical jump gains.
Improves Range Of Motion
As a vertical jump aspiring athlete, when I see research that looks at ‘foam rolling effects on ankle range of motion’, I must admit I get pretty excited. If you’ve been following me for a while, you may know that a massive part of my training philosophy is to place a huge focus on the ‘lower, lower legs’, namely the feet, ankles, and shins.
Although the study itself isn’t incredible, it found that foam rolling your achilles tendon improved plantarflexion significantly, thus increasing overall ankle mobility.
Being able to plantarflex efficiently is a big part of force transferral when it comes to vertical jump biomechanics and so this study alone was enough for me to start actively including foam rolling into my vertical jump training routine.6https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4387728/
Foam rolling in general has been linked with overall improved range of motion and just helps loosen your muscles up really well, which is why I think it’s still a good idea to do it prior to any workout.
You definitely don’t have to do it if your typical dynamic warm up makes you feel ready to lift or jump, but personally I feel like I need a little extra work to get rid of that stiffness.
I’m a very tight and immobile person to begin with and so I place a lot of importance on warming up properly. Personally I prefer foam rolling over static stretching and find that when combined with a solid dynamic warm up, I feel far more prepared to work out than when I do without it.
If you’re someone who struggles with delayed onset muscle soreness, foam rolling directly after a workout as well as doing so periodically has revealed significant reductions in soreness.
Additionally, this research found there were performance improvements for power and strength movements when foam rolling was used. The reasoning was that the decreased muscle soreness simply allowed for better overall performance.7https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4299735/
Personally I don’t suffer much from DOMS when I’m training really consistently, but if I’m detrained or have had several days off or perhaps I’m coming back after a deload week, I can reasonably expect more DOMS. Whenever this is the case, I make sure I’m doing plenty of foam rolling after my workouts so my performance in future workouts isn’t affected by muscle soreness.
Best Foam Roller For Vertical Jump Athletes?
I’ve gone through several foam rollers in the past. I started out with the soft, foam rollers but they are virtually useless.
I then upgraded to a far more solid one which worked well, until one day when I was rolling my glutes and managed to crack it.
By far the best foam roller I’ve ever used is the heavy duty TriggerPoint GRID X foam roller. This is a reinforced foam roller, meaning it’s 50% more firm than the extremely popular GRID edition.
The firmer, the better. I’d highly recommend picking one of these up if you don’t already have a quality foam roller!
This product is also highly portable at 13″ in length. The super long foam rollers don’t fit into a gym bag and are a pain to transport, but these are perfect.
What’s The Verdict?
If you take a longer-term view, foam rolling is simply an awesome tool for improving vertical jump performance. The fact that it improves range of motion as well as reduces muscle soreness means that it definitely improves workout performance and in my opinion should be a staple in any training routine.
No, it won’t increase your vertical jump as part of a warm up. But it can loosen you up and makes a decent enough replacement for static stretching (which we know is bad for short-term VJ performance).
Personally I use it prior to and directly after a workout as well as intermittently throughout the day to increase overall range of motion and flexibility.
It sucks, it’s painful, but it’s effective and I think it’s a really good idea for anyone concerned with improving their vertical jump.