Contents

Stretching For Hockey Performance

Today’s article is going to cover how to increase your on-ice performance with a proper stretching routine and provide you with some of the best stretches for hockey players.

I’ll break it down in the following categories:

  • Static Stretching For Hockey
  • Dynamic Stretching For Hockey
  • Hockey Mobility Training
  • Best Hockey Stretches

Let’s dive into things…

In the game of hockey where an extra ounce of strength could knock you off the puck, or an extra half-second of time is the difference between you getting a clean shot off or not — it is my job to ensure your training is preparing you in every way possible to create an optimal result.

Every little detail matters if you want to be your best.

Oftentimes the same questions keep coming up:

“How do I improve flexibility?”
“Should I stretch before a game?”
“What stretches should I do before or after my workouts?”

For decades now we have heard from coaches and gym teachers that we should incorporate some light aerobic work prior to training and games in combination with some static stretching.

Although in recent times (as far as the sport-science research goes), these strategies are beginning to be questioned by more informed authorities.

This has led to confusion for hockey players.

Should we do a jog and static stretch for a warm-up? Or should we do a dynamic warm-up?

Well, let’s examine the applicable research in this area thoroughly so you can make the best decision for YOU.

Static Stretching

It was originally suggested that static stretching improves range of motion, increase your rate of recovery from exercise (decrease DOMS), enhances performance, and decreases your risk of injury.

This original hypothesis sounds great, doesn’t it?

Unfortunately, not everything worked out this way.

As it stands today, the scientific research reviews on injury prevention are very much hit and miss. Additionally, I don’t know about you, but if I squat 10 sets of 10 today and then do some static stretching after… it isn’t going to do a damn thing for my soreness.

But, probably the biggest factor in this mix is the fact that as of now we have hundreds of studies that have been conducted on measuring performance in 1 rep max, running speed, reaction time, isometric torque production, jumping, and throwing — the results have been that most, but not all of them, report that pre-exercise static stretching decreases human performance from a combination of both neurological and muscular factors inhibition factors.

It is also important to note that this performance decrease seems to have a linear relationship with how long you hold the stretch.

Meaning, the longer you hold it, the greater negative effect it can potentially have on your performance within that particular muscle group.

Here’s a quick breakdown on a meta-analysis performed in 2012 compiling 104 total studies on stretching and it’s effects of athletic performance:

• A very likely negative effect on performance from static stretching by reducing explosive muscular contraction
• A likely negative effect on maximal strength by decreasing Type ll fiber activation
• A likely negative, although inconclusive effect on muscular power output by disrupting certain neural pathways

In addition to the above, many of the studies deemed inconclusive have completely neutral performance effects, meaning, no better or no worse. Even with stretching, you’re still the same athlete.

Hockey requires you to be both strong and explosive, and the research suggests that static stretching will reduce both of these, which will create a net-decrease in hockey performance. Or, if you’re lucky, have a neutral effect — which is a complete waste of time.

Where does that leave us?

Static stretching must be kept in the post-workout or post-game window.

But hold on a second.

Static stretching is not all bad, that’s not what I am saying at all.

Static stretching has been shown to effectively improve range of motion, and not to mention it is very easy to learn for anybody at any level.

So as a coach, I have to take in all the current research and anecdotal evidence I can and weigh the benefit-risk analysis.

The positive benefits are there for static stretching when done properly and at the right time, although they are small.

And from a negative standpoint it also more than likely to compromise performance if done prior to a workout or game, which is what most people do.

So the best-case scenario for a hockey player would be to follow these rules:

  1. Any and all static stretching should be performed on their own day, or, after games and workouts as part of a cool down strategy
  2. Hold the stretches for no longer than 15 – 30 secs
  3. Use the static stretches on the areas of the body where hockey players so often create the same tightness’ (see my mobility article for more information on this).

For hockey players, this means working those static stretches in the:

• Hips
• Calf / Achilles tendon
• Lower body in general
• Shoulders

Static Stretching Routine For Hockey Players

Here’s a static stretching routine to do after hockey games or your training sessions:

1. Groin frog stretch – Hold for 2 rounds, 15-30 secs
2. Seated piriformis stretch – Hold for 2 rounds, 15-30 secs
3. Seated glute stretch – Hold for 2 rounds, 15-30 secs
4. Hip flexor stretch, rear foot elevated – Hold for 2 rounds, 15-30 secs
5. Calf/Achilles tendon stretch on a stepper – Hold for 2 rounds, 15-30 secs
6. Anterior delt/pec stretch – Hold for 2 rounds, 15-30 secs
7. Posterior delt stretch – Hold for 2 rounds, 15-30 secs
8. Lying, internal rotator cuff stretch – Hold for 2 rounds, 15-30 secs
9. Lying quad stretch – Hold for 2 rounds, 15-30 secs
10. Seated hamstring stretch, reach for the toes – Hold for 2 rounds, 15-30 secs

NOTES:

• Best performed post-workout/game, or sometime in the evening hours after your on-ice session or workout.
• In addition to counting 15-30 secs, focus on taking deep diaphragmatic breaths.
• Do not overdo it, there is no trophy for who stretch the furthest.
• When trying to improve Range of Motion (ROM), perform this ideally 3-4x per week.

Dynamic Stretching

Dynamic stretching is a type of functionally based stretching exercise that incorporates more sport-specific movements to prepare the body for activity.

It places an emphasis on the movement requirements of the sport or activity rather than on individual muscles. (ie. jumping jacks vs hamstring stretch).

Dynamic stretching is the preferred type of stretching before activity (such as a hockey game).

Why?

Dynamic stretching improves range of motion in a joint more effectively than does static stretching while also being far more sport-specific than a static hold.

On top of that, the sport-specific movement and range of motion you go through with dynamic movements will also help increase the core temperature (something static stretching does not) and activate the central nervous system for proper recruitment of muscle fibers.

Lastly, unlike static stretching. dynamic stretching has not been shown in the research to have any negative effects on performance when done prior to exercise.

The combination of sport-specific movement, improved range of motion, improved performance, and no drawbacks make dynamic stretching a no-brainer for a solid option in the pre-game and pre-workout windows for hockey players.

How Long Should I Spend On My Dynamic Warm-Up?

The degree to which an athlete needs to stretch prior to game time is dependent on the sport.

As hockey players, we are right around the middle range compared to other sports.

We should be spending some time doing a dynamic warm-up before hockey (and training), but we don’t need to spend a crazy amount of time on it.

In most cases, a 5-15 minute warm-up will suffice.

Your Warm-Up Isn’t Only About Stretching

I also recommend athletes use this time in the dynamic stretching window before hockey games or training sessions to not only focus on technique and preparing the body physically, but also focus on getting in the zone mentally.

The warm-up is the time and the place to get your game face on and bring that killer, competitive attitude to the ice or into the gym.

Once the warm-up begins, it’s time to go — mentally and physically.

Hockey Dynamic Stretching Routine or Warm-Up

When assessing the movement mechanics, range of motion and stretch-shortening cycles for hockey, the following would be a great dynamic warm-up prior to your hockey:

Want a copy of this warm-up? You can get the Hockey Warm-up Cheat Sheet (FREE) here.

NOTES:

• Perform everything through a full range of motion.
• There is no trophy for who gets done first. Perform with good technique.

Creating Your Own Hockey Warm-Up

If you want to create your own dynamic stretching routine keep these in mind:

• Careful analysis of the game of hockey and the major movement patterns must be made
• The range of motion required for these movements should be assessed
• You need to have an exercise selection that best replicates these on-ice movements, not just from a purely “what it looks like” standpoint, but from a joint and range of motion perspective.
• You can perform the warm-up in repetitions (example jumping jacks x 10) or in distance covered (A-skips for 10 yds). Repetitions are usually easiest when performing by yourself, distance covered is usually best if working with the whole team.
• Each drill should start slow, and gradually increase the range of motion, speed, or repetitions as your body gets warmer.

Hockey Mobility Training

When we talk about increasing your mobility for hockey we usually don’t refer to it as “stretching”.

Mobility is the intersection of three different qualities:

  1. Flexibility
  2. Technique
  3. Strength

Mobility is much different than flexibility.

Flexibility is the ability of a muscle, or group of muscles, to passively lengthen through a range of motion. Stretching works on lengthening these tight muscles to improve their flexibility, whereas mobility involves much more than just tightness.

Mobility includes all elements that may limit a hockey athlete’s movement and performance such as their joint capsules, fascial tissue, range of motion dysfunctions, strength, neural damage, and plenty of others.

If you want to learn more about improving your mobility for hockey performance we have a complete Hockey Mobility Guide.

Here’s a sample mobility routine that was designed for hockey players:

Hockey Mobility Routine

*Run through the circuit once without resting between exercises

Best Hockey Stretches

Although I’m going to pull from my years of experience and from my scouring of the scientific data on this topic to come up with my favorite stretches for hockey players, it’s important to point out that there is no “one best stretch” for absolutely everybody.

Generalities can be made for sure when it comes to hockey athletes as they consistently run into the same issues (due to the nature of the sport, it’s natural that there are common trends among athletes).

But, in some cases, you get those oddball players who have a mobility issue unlike any other athlete in the sport. And for those people, I really recommend you read this and also give this a go for a couple of months.

The Common Problems

Hockey players consistently have mobility issues within the:

  • Hips + Lower Back
  • Shoulders
  • Calves + Achilles Tendon
  • Hamstrings + Vastus Lateralis

Let’s have a look at each one and solve them one-by-one with the best stretches for hockey players.

Hips + Lower Back

If you look at a hockey player’s posture and movement throughout the game, he/she is bent over at the waist for pretty much the entire game.

During a face-off, when taking a shot, when skating, and even sitting on the bench. They are in constant hip flexion (as opposed to extension, which would represent a straightening of the hips, or, “thrusting” motion).

This chronic hip flexion shortens and tightens the hip flexors which can lead to a whole host of postural issues including pain in the hips during movement, tightness in the hips, rounded shoulders, shoulder impingements, low back lordosis and a forward lean in the neck.

My favorite exercises to alleviate pain and correct these tightnesses include:

Rear Foot Elevated Hip Flexor Stretch

Iron Cross

Deep Squat Hold With Alternating Reaches

Shoulders

When you’re standing in a relaxed position, your shoulders shouldn’t be pulled forward.

They should be at your side.

Also, in a relaxed position they should be symmetrical in height.

One shoulder should not be higher or lower than the other. This type of tightness usually results in a forward head and neck lean as well (which ties into the same “root cause” reasoning as the hips/lower back).

Addressing shoulder tightness with hockey players is extremely important for puck handling ability, shot power, and shot accuracy.

The internal and external rotator muscles work together to create a lot of this motion and hockey players normally have a bigger issue with their external rotators, and specifically their scapula retractors (muscles that pull your shoulders blades into a “flat” position with the back, as opposed to having them stick out like bat wings).

My favorite exercises to alleviate pain and correct these tightnesses include:

Supine Shoulder Slides

Side Lying Windmills

Push Up ISO Hold With Hands Elevated

Calves + Achilles Tendon

The combined Achilles tendon and calf tightness pops up in tons of hockey players, and I believe it is mainly due skating mechanics in comparison to running mechanics.

When running you have a much greater ability to fully extend the foot (pointing the toe downwards) in a straight-on movement.

Whereas in hockey, the foot is pointed slightly sideways and there is much less overall extension, but still a ton of tension which can create tightness over time.

Tension plus no extension equals a lot of force that gets “stuck” in one joint and the surrounding area.

It also doesn’t help the issue that hockey players feet are completely stuck in a right angle for 6-8 months out of every year in the skating boot. When you’re locked in like that, in comparison to a running shoe which is very free movement, you’re bound to run into localized tightness.

My favorite exercises to alleviate pain and correct these tightnesses include:

Deep Squat Hold With Toes Elevated

Knee To Wall Ankle Mobilization

Lower Leg SMR

Hamstrings + Vastus Lateralis

The biceps femoris muscle of the hamstring in combination with the vastus lateralis muscle in the quadriceps both get tightened for the same reasons, they are prime movers in the force generated during a skating stride.

One of the biceps femoris main jobs is to point the foot outwards, which is the position hockey players feet are in whenever they are skating. The vastus lateralis is that big quad muscle on the outside of your thigh, its job to apply force down on the ice to propel you forward.

Both of these muscles get overused during hockey due to the volume of skating performed over the course of the competitive season, which leads to both of them slowly becoming tight as a rock.

For most hockey players when it comes time for the offseason training to begin, I have noticed they have biceps femoris and vastus lateralis muscles that resemble steel rods. Way too tight in order to function properly.

My favorite exercises to alleviate pain and correct these tightnesses include:

Cossack Squats

Knee Hug Into Reverse Lunges

Rollover Into V-Sit

Improving Flexibility For Skating Performance

What makes players like McDavid and Crosby so special?

The way they move on the ice with ease and blow by opponents…

This leads to more scoring opportunities and has helped them both become one of the best players of all time…

One reason they move so fluidly on the ice is that they are able to open their hips when their skating…

If you want to become a faster and better skater you need to work on your hip tightnesses…

We’ve designed a complete program called the “Hockey Hip Fix” that will help you unlock your tight hips and release your true skating potential on the ice.

Frequently Asked Hockey Stretching Questions

Why is flexibility important in hockey?

Flexibility has a direct correlation to mobility, and hockey players need to be mobile to increase their stride length (skating speed), open up their hips for skating techniques (such as mohawk skating) and prevent injuries.

Should hockey players do static or dynamic stretches?

Dynamic stretching is best for before hockey games, practices, or training. Studies have shown that pre-exercise static stretching decreases human performance from a combination of both neurological and muscular factors inhibition factors.

How long should hockey players stretch?

Your dynamic stretching routine before playing hockey should last about 10-20 minutes.

When should hockey players stretch before a game?

Ideally 10-15 minutes before stepping out on the ice.

Final Thoughts

Stretching for hockey players falls into the same world as everything else in hockey training, it will only ever be as good as its application.

If you have these issues, working on them the right way (and at the right time) will allow you to become an all-around better hockey player.

I hope you found this hockey stretching guide helpful, and if you have any questions please ask in the comment section below!

  • Foam rolling is a popular strategy for recovery, but research on whether it really works has been scarce.
  • Now, a new meta-analysis out of Germany confirms that foam rolling can help retain sprint performance and flexibility, as well as reduce perceptions of muscle soreness.

Go to any CrossFit gym or hang out in a host house with a bunch of bike racers and you’re guaranteed to see plenty of folks on the floor, wincing and grimacing as they methodically mash their muscles atop a foam roller.

These cylindrical self massagers burst onto the fitness scene about two decades ago and have only grown in popularity to the point where you can now buy whole body rollers, mini rollers, ridged rollers, Rumble Rollers, and even vibrating rollers.

Related Story

The premise is that they break up adhesions in the muscles, facilitate stretching, help you warm up, and promote recovery. But to date, there have only been a smattering of studies to show whether or not they really work.

Until now. A research team from Germany gathered all those studies into one big meta-analysis to see what effect rolling—either with a foam roller or with a hand-held rolling stick—actually had on performance in terms of improving sprinting, jumping, and flexibility and on recovery in terms of muscle soreness. All in all, they included 21 studies, 14 of which used pre-rolling for exercise warmup and seven that used rolling after the workout for exercise recovery.

The study, which was published in Frontiers in Physiology, concluded that as part of a warmup, rolling had an overall positive impact on sprint performance and flexibility, and also appeared to help maintain sprint and strength performance and ease muscle soreness when done after exercising.

Specifically, rolling beforehand improved sprint performance by 0.7 percent and flexibility by 4 percent. Rolling afterward helped limit reductions in subsequent sprint and strength performance by about 3 percent and 4 percent, respectively. And it helped reduce perceived muscle soreness by 6 percent.

4 Foam Rollers We Love

TriggerPoint GRID Mini amazon.com

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Hyperice Vyper 2.0 Roller amazon.com $199.00

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Moji Heated Foam Roller amazon.com $139.99

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ProSource Muscle Roller amazon.com

Best for Sore Spots

Those numbers aren’t huge, of course. But they’re positive. The researchers conclude, “the effects of foam rolling on performance and recovery are rather minor and partly negligible, but can be relevant in some cases (e.g., to increase sprint performance and flexibility or to reduce muscle pain sensation.)”

That final point seems pretty important, since most people foam roll to feel better. This study seems to support that, so even though rolling out your muscles may feel uncomfortable or even a little painful at the time, you may end up reaping the benefits a little later on.

​Selene Yeager “The Fit Chick” Selene Yeager is a top-selling professional health and fitness writer who lives what she writes as a NASM certified personal trainer, USA Cycling certified coach, pro licensed mountain bike racer, and All-American Ironman triathlete.

Foam rolling was once for professional athletes only. These days it’s hard to walk into a gym without tripping over somebody rolling around on a neoprene tube. Dedicated classes in hip New York gyms are frequented by the likes of Sarah Jessica Parker and Shakira. Forget protein shakers, resistance bands or Fit Bits: foam rollers are this season’s must-have gym accessory.

The rise of foam rollers owes much to the Israeli engineer and physicist Moshé Feldenkrais, whose pioneering work on body movements to improve muscle function became popular in the 1950s. A black belt in judo, Feldenkrais incorporated them into his system for physical improvement when he came across them in the US a couple of decades later.

More recently, the American sports therapist Michael Clark helped introduce these accessories to the general population with his 2001 book, Integrated Training for the New Millennium. The first US patent for a foam roller was filed as recently as 2004.

For the uninitiated, the practice involves applying your own body weight to a foam cylinder, using small repetitive undulating movements to exert pressure on the muscle. The internet is full of guides on how to do this right: YouTube contains over 600,000 videos that match the term; a quick hunt on a search engine returns around 40m hits.

Despite this, scientific evidence to support the practice remains surprisingly limited. So does it work – and if so, how?

Stretch targets

Most people understand that stretching before exercise is important; it loosens you up and improves your flexibility. But too much stretching – meaning upwards of 60 seconds – will weaken your muscles and could hamper your workout. One of foam rolling’s big selling points is that it can improve flexibility to a similar extent as stretching, but with an important added bonus – it doesn’t impair strength. Foam rolling can also improve performance if combined with stretching. This may be better than doing one or the other, but as yet the research evidence is inconclusive.

Meanwhile, we can now say with confidence that foam rolling is better than doing nothing. Recent work from our lab at the University of Stirling, carried out along with Malcolm Fairweather of SportScotland, tested the effect of foam rolling on a group of volunteers doing leg extension exercises.

We found that it required less effort for them to complete the exercise after two minutes of foam rolling than after two minutes of rest. Thanks to this reduction in effort, volunteers who repeated this for three days were able to perform better leg extensions than those who did not foam roll each day.

Foam rolling has also shown promise as a way of recovering from exercise, by reducing muscle soreness. Since muscle soreness can severely hinder healthy muscle function, managing this problem can help people perform better next time around.

Fascia conscious. Madesapix

Beyond this, there is still much we don’t know. One big issue is that we are not still not sure how foam rolling works on the body. For years, it was regarded as a way of releasing tension from the soft connective tissue known as fascia that forms a kind of matrix around the entire human body – including muscles, bones, organs and nerves.

Researchers have become sceptical about this, however: given the amount of force required to manipulate the fascia, many think it more likely that the pressure applied by foam rolling may be acting on the nervous system instead.

The findings on using rolling to avoid muscle soreness provide additional evidence here. We know that this pain relief is not related to “warming” the muscles, while there is only limited evidence that foam rolling increases blood flow. Were either of these the case, it would suggest the benefit is coming from stimulating soft tissue in the area in question. But if we rule both of these out it suggests there must be a more global or neurological response taking place.

Rolling on

All the research so far has looked at the immediate and short-term effects of foam rolling. Our understanding of the longer-term effects remains cloudy. So while we know that foam rolling both before and after taking exercise can complement your training programme, we can’t say for sure whether these benefits continue into the future. And while it has previously been shown that foam rolling has no negative effect on athletic performance in the short term, we still can’t say for certain that there are no detrimental long-term effects.

Roll with it. Octavius Thompson

We also don’t have enough evidence to say how best to use foam rollers. Researchers have adopted protocols that vary from between one and five bouts of foam rolling per exercise session, and from anywhere between five seconds and two minutes. There is no suggestion that longer durations are better, so if in doubt, keep your rolling brief.

On the other hand, researchers are finding that you need repeated bouts to increase your range of movement. So if flexibility is your goal, you should roll and repeat at least twice during a session – just make sure nobody trips over you while you’re doing it.

Does foam rolling muscles work?

Everyone loves a good massage but not always the price that comes with it. After a tough workout or while rehabilitating injuries, nothing is better than that “hurts so good” feeling.

Although not as luxurious, using a foam roller is considered a form of self-massage and can produce many of the same benefits.
Rolling out your muscles isn’t just for professional athletes. While it has the ability to increase performance, foam rolling can also be used to relieve and reduce tension caused by daily stresses.
What does foam rolling muscles do?

Popular thought is that foam rolling breaks up adhesions, reduces stiffness, decreases soreness, increases blood flow and reduces tissue tension, leading to improved recovery and performance.
Studies have shown that rolling out your muscles does decrease tissue tension and can improve your range of movement, increasing your speed and flexibility. While there are many benefits to rolling out your muscles prior to or following a workout, studies have also shown that foam rolling can be used without affecting muscle performance and strength and may just be used as a cheaper method of soft tissue massage.
How often should you foam roll?

Foam rolling can be done on a daily basis on any muscle group. It’s most effective when it’s utilized on a consistent basis. To better prepare for a training session, I recommend rolling out before exercising to reduce muscle tension and increase blood flow. It can also be done following exercise to limit the amount of muscle soreness and stiffness. If you struggle with sleep due to aches, foam rolling prior to bedtime may decrease the stress and tension from the day to aid in getting a better night’s sleep.
Have a tender spot? Foam rolling may cause some discomfort in certain areas that are extremely stiff. Targeting a specific muscle for five to 30 seconds, you should feel the tenderness of the area dissipate. It’s not advised to roll over known injuries or joint areas without a qualified medical professional’s permission.
How can I keep my muscles healthy after a foam rolling session?

This practice only produces temporary effects on the muscles and is only one aspect of keeping your tissue healthy. For long-term changes, I recommend movement and strength work. To help improve your performance and muscle recovery time, it’s necessary to be consistent with movement, drink plenty of water, get adequate sleep, and eat healthy and nutritious foods.
Chris Kolba is a physical therapist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

Supplements and MDMA

Quick Info

Where to buy the supplements

Need them fast? Buy them on Amazon (with one day or same-day shipping) or at a local health food store or grocer. You could use Instacart to get them delivered to you, if that’s in your area.

Don’t need them fast? Buy them on Amazon, or iHerb.

Again, the only way to be perfectly safe with drugs is to not use drugs at all.

What supplements to buy and when to take

Do whichever routine you prefer.

Regular routine

  • 4h before MDMA ingestion: 2g Ginger
  • 3h before: 500mg ALCAR (Acetyl-L-carnitine), 500mg Vitamin C
  • 2h before: Nothing
  • 1h before: 2g Ginger, and Optional – 1 tablet (100mg) Magnesium
  • With MDMA: 300mg ALA (Alpha-Lipoic Acid), 500mg Vitamin C
  • 1h after MDMA ingestion: 300mg ALA, 500mg ALCAR
  • 2h after: 300mg ALA, Optional – 1 tablet (100mg) Magnesium
  • 3h after: 300mg ALA, 500mg Vitamin C
  • 4h after: 300mg ALA
  • 5h after: 300mg ALA, 500mg ALCAR
  • 6h after: 300mg ALA, 500mg Vitamin C
  • 7h after: 300mg ALA

Minimal routine

  • 1000 mg ALCAR 3 hours before you roll (not more than 2500 mg in a day)
  • 200-600 mg of CoQ10 7 hours before you roll (not more than 3600 mg in a day)
  • 800-IU of Vitamin E 13 hours before you roll (not more than 1600-IU in a day)

If you’d like to add some extra to the minimal routine, buy a bottle of ALA and take 300mg roughly every hour (like the regular routine above). And buy some ginger capsules and take according to the regular routine to minimize potential nausea.

Timing doesn’t have to be exact. CoQ10 and Vitamin E should be taken 6 hours before rolling or more, whereas ALCAR should be taken 3 hours before rolling or less.

Reasons to take the supplements

Supplement Rationale
Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) Evidence suggesting MDMA neuroprotection1
Acetyl-L-carnitine (ALCAR) Evidence suggesting MDMA neuroprotection2
Electrolytes or isotonic fluids To reduce risk of the serious condition hyponatremia3 4 5
Magnesium Anecdotal reports of reducing jaw clenching
Ascorbate (Vitamin C) Evidence suggesting MDMA neuroprotection6
Vitamin E Evidence suggesting MDMA neuroprotection7
Nicotinamide Evidence suggesting MDMA neuroprotection8
Ubiquinone (Co-Q10) Evidence suggesting MDMA neuroprotection9
Ginger Evidence suggesting MDMA neuroprotection10 and nausea protection11
5-HTP with EGCG Anecdotal reports of reducing comedown

The benefits of taking supplements with MDMA

  1. Some supplements have been shown in research to reduce or prevent MDMA-induced neurotoxcity in rodent studies.

  2. Supplements may reduce the risk you’ll lose MDMA’s effects over time (hypothetical)

  3. Anecdotal reports suggest supplements increase afterglow and reduce comedowns for some people

Supplements may help protect your brain on MDMA

Supplements like Alpha Lipoic Acid, ALCAR, Vitamin C, Co-Q10 and some others have been shown to reduce or prevent MDMA-induced neurotoxicity in rodent studies.1 2 6 9

High and/or frequent doses of MDMA have been shown to be neurotoxic in laboratory animals.12 However, no properly controlled studies have shown cognitive impairments in human users after a period of abstention long enough to rule out temporary effects of MDMA, polydrug use, and a partying/unhealthy lifestyle.

It seems likely the safer your MDMA dosage, the less important supplements may be. Supplements may not be needed with total doses (including any booster doses or re-doses taken) below 2 mg/kg, so 145 mg total during a session if you weigh 160 lbs.13 However, others disagree and are “inclined to see people using multiple supplements with every dose they take (Fitzgerald 2017).”

RollSafe is certainly biased, as some supplements are advertised here.

Supplements, afterglows and comedowns

Anecdotal evidence only.

Supplements may reduce the risk you’ll lose MDMA’s effects over time

There is a possibility that taking supplements with MDMA may help reduce the risk of “losing the magic.” “Losing the magic” is when MDMA users find that after a few years of occasional or heavy use, it stops working for them. This does not appear to be the case in all users, and anecdotal reports suggest that it may be related to the frequency of use.

Still, particularly as MDMA heads into Phase 3 trials with the FDA for the treatment of PTSD and looks to have a future as a medicine with MDMA-assisted therapy, anything that might prevent the loss of MDMA’s special effects with occasional usage in therapy over time is interesting.

A 2001 paper found that the neuroprotective antioxidant Vitamin C significantly reduced tolerance to MDMA in rodents.14

We don’t know if preventing tolerance prevents losing the magic.

Recommended supplements for MDMA

List of supplements:

  • Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA), evidence suggesting MDMA neuroprotection1
  • Acetyl-L-carnitine (ALCAR), evidence suggesting MDMA neuroprotection2
  • Electrolytes or isotonic fluids, to reduce risk of the serious condition hyponatremia3 4 5
  • Magnesium, anecdotal reports of reducing jaw clenching
  • Ascorbate (Vitamin C), evidence suggesting MDMA neuroprotection6
  • Vitamin E, evidence suggesting MDMA neuroprotection7
  • Nicotinamide, evidence suggesting MDMA neuroprotection8
  • Ubiquinone (Co-Q10), evidence suggesting MDMA neuroprotection9
  • Ginger, evidence suggesting MDMA neuroprotection10
  • 5-HTP with EGCG, anecdotal reports of reducing comedown. There is no high quality evidence that 5-HTP is dangerous to combine with MDMA, though there are rumors that this is a bad combination. If you know of good evidence either way, please send it to us.

Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA)

Recommended formulations:

  • Any trusted brand with 300mg or less per capsule.
  • Amazon: Doctor’s Best 150mg, NOW 250mg
  • iHerb: Doctor’s Best 150mg, Doctor’s Best 300mg
  • Within the all-in-one supplement kits

Recommended dosage and frequency:

  • Proposed: 300mg ALA with MDMA, then every 1-2 hours after that until 7 h post dose (total of 1200-2400mg)
  • Do not consume more than 2400mg of ALA per day15

“Repeated administration of the metabolic antioxidant alpha-lipoic acid (100 mg/kg, i.p., b.i.d. for 2 consecutive days) 30 min prior to MDMA did not prevent the acute hyperthermia induced by the drug; however, it fully prevented the serotonergic deficits and the changes in the glial response induced by MDMA.”

ALA vs Na-RALA

ALA is recommended vs Na-RALA (RALA) because it is more cost effective.16

Acetyl-L-carnitine (ALCAR)

Recommended formulations:

  • Any trusted brand with 500mg per capsule.
  • Amazon: Doctor’s Best 500mg, NOW 500mg
  • iHerb: NOW 500mg, Doctor’s Best 500mg
  • Within the all-in-one supplement kits

Recommended dosage and frequency:

  • Proposed: 500mg ALCAR 3h before MDMA, 1h after MDMA, and 5h after MDMA (total of 1500mg)
  • Do not consume more than 2500mg of ALCAR per day17

“The present work is the first to successfully demonstrate that pretreatment with ALC exerts effective neuroprotection against the MDMA-induced neurotoxicity at the mitochondrial level, reducing carbonyl formation, decreasing mtDNA deletion, improving the expression of the respiratory chain components and preventing the decrease of 5-HT levels in several regions of the rat brain.”

Alves E, Binienda Z, Carvalho F, et al. Acetyl-L-carnitine provides effective in vivo neuroprotection over 3,4-methylenedioximethamphetamine-induced mitochondrial neurotoxicity in the adolescent rat brain. Neuroscience. 2009;158(2):514-23.2

Electrolytes or isotonic fluids

Recommended formulations:

  • Any trusted brand of isotonic fluid
  • Amazon: Propel Electrolyte Powder
  • iHerb: Ultima Powder Packets

Recommended dosage and frequency:

  • As a rough guideline: ~110mg sodium with 250ml of fluid per hour
  • Do not consume more than 2300mg of sodium per day18

“Hyponatremia is a serious complication of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) use.”

“Combining studies, MDMA potentiated the ability of water to lower serum sodium.”

Baggott MJ, Garrison KJ, Coyle JR, et al. MDMA Impairs Response to Water Intake in Healthy Volunteers. Adv Pharmacol Sci. 2016;2016:2175896.19

“Prevention of hyponatremia with limited consumption of electrolyte containing fluids and controlled ambient temperatures are required to preserve the body’s homeostatic maintenance of fluid balance.”5

Vitamin C

Recommended formulations:

  • Any trusted brand.
  • Amazon: Nature Made Chewable (with 50mg sodium) 500mg
    • The sodium in this is an added bonus.19
    • Chewable is nice as anecdotal reports suggest it can be difficult to swallow tablets (non-capsules) on MDMA.
  • iHerb: Sunkist Chewable 500mg
  • Within the all-in-one supplement kits

Recommended dosage and frequency:

  • Proposed: 500mg every three hours, starting ~3 hours before taking MDMA, finishing ~6-7 hours after your MDMA dose
  • Be cautious with Vitamin C, as “higher doses (2,000-6,000mg) may cause diarrhea.”20 If you know you can take more Vitamin C without GI-issues, consider taking 500mg every 1-2 hours instead of every 3 hours, as smaller frequent doses of supplements may be better.

“Treatment of rats with ascorbic acid suppressed the generation of hydroxyl radicals, as evidenced by the production of 2,3-dihydroxybenzoic acid from salicylic acid, in the striatum during the administration of a neurotoxic regimen of MDMA. Ascorbic acid also attenuated the MDMA-induced depletion of striatal 5-HT content.”

Shankaran M, Yamamoto BK, Gudelsky GA. Ascorbic acid prevents 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA)-induced hydroxyl radical formation and the behavioral and neurochemical consequences of the depletion of brain 5-HT. Synapse. 2001;40(1):55-64.6

Magnesium

Magnesium may help with jaw clenching (anecdotal reports). Magnesium is not for neuroprotection, like the other supplements.

Recommended formulations:

  • Any trusted brand with magnesium glycinate (diglycinate), magnesium gluconate, or magnesium citrate.
    • Anecdotal reports suggest that diarrhea is rare with these forms of magnesium, however likely not nonexistent. Magnesium glycinate and gluconate may have the lowest rates of GI-upset, followed by magnesium citrate.21
    • Avoid magnesium oxide or magnesium chloride, as diarrhea is more common with these forms.21
    • “1g of Magnesium Oxide daily is sufficient to induce diarrhea as a reported side effect in 12% of the study group in this study.”21
  • Most expensive and possibly best form (for absorption): Magnesium Gluconate
    • Too expensive to recommend! On the order of 5x more expensive than magnesium glycinate.
  • Mid-range and good absorption: Magnesium Glycinate
    • Amazon: Doctor’s Best 200mg per 2 tablets
    • iHerb: Doctor’s Best 200mg per 2 tablets
  • Alternate form if you don’t like Glycinate or Gluconate: Magnesium Citrate

Recommended dosage and frequency:

  • Proposed: 1-2 tablets (100-200mg elemental magnesium) every few hours as needed

Anecdotal reports suggest that magnesium may help reduce jaw clenching while rolling / using MDMA. We are unaware of high quality scientific evidence supporting this.

Ginger

Ginger may help with neuroprotection.10 It also should help reduce nausea.22 Given that it reduces nausea and nausea is a potential symptom of hyponatremia, it is extra important to limit total fluid intake to 500 ml/hr and try and consume electrolyte-containing fluids instead of water if consuming ginger – though both of these are important even if you aren’t taking ginger, too.

Thanks to Seth for making us aware of this.

Recommended formulations:

  • 2g (not more) ginger extract powder 4 hours before MDMA ingestion and 2g ginger powder 1h before MDMA ingestion

Ways to get 1 gram of Ginger equivalent:

Ginger can be ingested via several ways, and the following is an approximate standardization table for 1g of Ginger Extract:

A capsule that has 1g ginger extract in it

A teaspoon of fresh, grated, rhizome (the vertical aspect of ginger root)

2 droppers (2mL) of liquid extract

2 teaspoons (10mL) of syrup

4 cups (8 oz each) ginger tea, steeping 1⁄2 teaspoon grated ginger for 5–10 min

8-oz cup ginger ale, made with real ginger

2 pieces crystallized ginger, each 1 inch square, 1⁄4 inch thick22

Other supplements, perhaps less important

Vitamin E, evidence suggesting MDMA neuroprotection7

Nicotinamide, evidence suggesting MDMA neuroprotection8

Ubiquinone (Co-Q10), evidence suggesting MDMA neuroprotection9

5-HTP with EGCG, anecdotal reports of reducing comedown. Avoid 5-HTP within 24 h of MDMA (hypothetical concerns due to serotonin interaction).

Taking melatonin (proposed: 5-9mg) before bed may be useful as a sleep-aid after MDMA, with the added bonus that melatonin is a powerful antioxidant.23 However, the evidence for melatonin assisting with MDMA neuroprotection is much weaker than the other supplements, which have been studied in rodents with MDMA.

What if this is too many pills for me?

Just take ALA and ALCAR. If you’d prefer to take a very small number of supplements, I’d say just do ALA, though you could go either way and do ALCAR only instead.

If jaw clenching is an issue for you, add magnesium to the mix too.

What if I’m going to a festival or club and can’t easily take in supplements?

Perhaps just take ALCAR instead of ALA, as ALCAR has a substantially longer elimination half life – ALCAR stays in your system for longer than ALA does (about 4.2 h for 500 mg ALCAR vs 36 min for 600 mg ALA).

So perhaps take ~1000 mg ALCAR before entering the club/festival. CoQ10 is probably less important as a supplement as it’s likely harder to get useful amounts absorbed, but 100 mg of CoQ10 has an elimination half life of 33 hours.

So perhaps also add ~200-600mg of CoQ10 maybe ~6 hours before you’re planning on rolling. CoQ10 will reach maximum levels in your body ~6.5 hours after being ingested. Vitamin E also has a very long elimination half life.

Summary of minimal routine for when you can’t safely take supplements inside a club or festival:

  • ~1000 mg ALCAR ~3 hours before you roll (not more than 2500 mg in a day)
  • ~200-600 mg of CoQ10 ~6.5 hours before you roll (not more than 3600 mg in a day)
  • 800-IU of Vitamin E ~13 hours before you roll (not more than 1600-IU in a day)

Timing doesn’t have to be exact. CoQ10 and Vitamin E should be taken 6 hours before rolling or more, whereas ALCAR should be taken 3 hours before rolling or less.

Should I take 5-HTP after rolling on Molly?

There are anecdotal reports that taking 5-HTP in the nights following MDMA use may help reduce a comedown. There are also anecdotal reports that taking EGCG with the 5-HTP makes it more effective at reducing the comedown. There’s no strong evidence supporting either of these recommendations.

There’s some evidence24 that a precursor to 5-HTP may be beneficial in memory related tasks in ex-MDMA users, so if you’re a heavy user or following less safe practices (e.g. re-doses, frequent use, higher dosages) it may be worth considering taking 5-HTP for a week after using MDMA, starting the night after your MDMA session. Adding green tea catechins (i.e. EGCG and EGC) should help.25

For safety purposes, RollSafe recommends avoiding 5-HTP within 24 hours of MDMA consumption. This recommendation is based on a private conversation we had with a respected drug researcher. We noticed that after we first published the RollSafe guideline on this, avoiding 5-HTP within 24 hours has become the standard recommendation. If any researchers know of more specific time frame recommendations for 5-HTP with MDMA/Molly, we’d like to know.

See also: The Effects of Molly the Day After and How to Prevent and Treat an MDMA Comedown.

Reviews

If you’ve taken supplements with MDMA, we’d love to read your review: Submit a review of an MDMA Supplement

All-in-One Supplement Kits for MDMA

All-in-one supplement kits take the individual supplements and sell them as one package.

Downside is the all-in-one kit costs more than buying in bulk and their supplement dosages could be improved, but they are convenient which is a huge plus for many and RaveBox has free shipping worldwide.

All-in-One Supplement Box for MDMA:

RaveBox

HUP

Supplement dosing schedule

  • 4h before MDMA ingestion: 2g Ginger
  • 3h before: 500mg ALCAR, 500mg Vitamin C
  • 2h before: Nothing
  • 1h before: 2g Ginger, and Optional – 1 tablet (100mg) Magnesium
  • With MDMA: 300mg ALA, 500mg Vitamin C
  • 1h after MDMA ingestion: 300mg ALA, 500mg ALCAR
  • 2h after: 300mg ALA, Optional – 1 tablet (100mg) Magnesium
  • 3h after: 300mg ALA, 500mg Vitamin C
  • 4h after: 300mg ALA
  • 5h after: 300mg ALA, 500mg ALCAR
  • 6h after: 300mg ALA, 500mg Vitamin C
  • 7h after: 300mg ALA

Every hour, remember the fluid rules: 250ml total fluids (ideally electrolyte-containing) if not dancing, 500ml if dancing/in a hot environment.

Make a supplement sheet

If you’re rolling at home, get a piece of paper and mark times e.g. 8pm, 9pm, 10pm, 11pm, 12am/bed, and put the supplements for each person underneath those times. This is so that you don’t have to figure out what you’re supposed to be supplementing while you’re rolling – MDMA can make it harder to remember to check if it’s time to take your supplements, and it can make it harder to remember which supplements to take.

More information on MDMA

Go to the main page: MDMA (Molly/Ecstasy).

Supplements for psychedelics like LSD and shrooms

See supplements to reduce anxiety and nausea while tripping, and reduce the odds of a “bad” trip.

Getting Ready to Roll at a Party on MDMA? Read This First

When it’s party time, you’ll find Ecstasy, Molly, X or Candy, around the corner. Yeah, MDMA is everywhere. At almost every party you attend, you will find youngsters rolling and dancing to the music. It is true that the use of this love drug has become quite common; however, not a lot of people know how to stay safe.

We want to give you all the tools and information you need to enjoy a great night out without having to worry about the toxicity and side effects associated with MDMA.

Listen up and listen good.

So, What Exactly is MDMA?

MDMA is the popular name for 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine. Ecstasy, a highly popular version of MDMA is an illegal drug obtained from a non-natural substance. It is a psychoactive drug consumed for its euphoric effects. Ecstasy is popular because users enjoy the feeling of euphoria they experience after taking this drug.

If you are keen on taking MDMA, here are a few things to keep in mind.

  • Make sure that there is an interval of at least 3 months between rolls.
  • Don’t have more than one roll a month.
  • Ideally, you should have a gap of 3 months between rolls. This will reduce side effects and help you recover faster.

MDMA And Molly Are Not The Same Thing – And Neither Is Ecstacy

MDMA is essentially the name of a compound that people enjoy taking, it is often described as Molly or Ecstasy.

Molly is the street nickname for MDMA (3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine). Usually Molly is sold in gelatin capsules that consist in highly fragmented (crushed) MDMA crystals in powder form, drug dealers tend to do this because it dissolves quicker in the liquids, while big crystals tend to stick to bottom of the glass.

Pressed pills contain in theory the same substance, MDMA, but this is not a general rule, some pills may have other adulterants added to them like: caffeine, amphetamines or other related substances, or in worst cases no MDMA at all. There are a lot of substances that mimic the effects of MDMA, and some are vey dangerous like PMMA.

Just for a short recap:

Molly: Molly is the nickname used for MDMA when it is in the powdered form.

MDMA: The actual chemical compound and this is what users want to get when they buy Molly or Ecstasy. MDMA is an illegal drug and as such it is not widely available.

Ecstasy: The name is used to refer to pills that may contain MDMA. Ecstasy pills may contain amphetamines and some other stimulants that provide an extra high. However, these mixtures can be dangerous.

Keep in mind, just because the dealer says that it is Molly, it does not have to be pure MDMA, and you should always test your stuff, no matter if they are capsules or pills. These days a lot of drug dealers sell dangerous bath salts as MDMA.

But Is it Safe?

Let’s put it this way – Is it safer than cigarettes or alcohol? Yes.

Source: Nutt, David J, et al., “Drug Harms in the UK: A Multicriteria Decision Analysis.” The Lancet 376, no. 9752 (2010): 1558-65.

Is it safer than drinking hot cocoa on the bed while reading Twilight? No.

It’s difficult to put a safety label on things that way.

Yes, every year, at least a few people die from MDMA use. However, in most cases, the victims had done something unwise that caused their death. For example, some of them took massive overdoses. Some mixed drugs; some tried to drive while there were on a high. Dancing for hours at a hot club after taking MDMA can cause a heat stroke and death. If are taking MDMA, you must also take some simple precautions to reduce your chances of suffering serious side effects.

This is why we’re here. We want you to be safe!

All drugs cause some damage – even your over-the-counter pain medicines. MDMA is no different. It is not safe or good, but in moderate doses, it is unlikely to cause any major damage to your body.

When you compare two drugs, it is impossible to say that one is bad and the other is good, but some drugs are definitely worse than the others. MDMA is safer than many other drugs if you take it in small doses. But if you don’t do it right, MDMA can be lethal. It is quite possible that the Molly you take is not pure MDMA. If you take the necessary precautions, you can use MDMA every few months without suffering any major side effects.

What Does MDMA Feel Like And What Are The Effects?

Also, will MDMA make me a love machine? (Yeah, some people ask that).

Fact: Depending on your body weight, a light dose might have none or close to none effects on a 220 pounds (100 kg) person, especially if that person is a user with drug tolerance , and in the same time it shake up pretty hard a 100 pounds (45 kg) person. You can hear feedback ranging from “nothing happened” to “i was rolling so hard i had hallucinations”, this is why dosage is very important!

The Positive Effects:

  • Mild to extreme mood lift, euphoria
  • Increased willingness to communicate
  • Increase in energy (stimulation)
  • Ego softening
  • Decreased fear, anxiety, and insecurities
  • Feelings of comfort, belonging, and closeness to others
  • Feelings of love and empathy
  • Forgiveness of self and others
  • A sense of inner peace and acceptance of self, others, and the world
  • Increased awareness & appreciation of music
  • Increased awareness of senses (taste, smell, touch, hearing, vision)
  • Increased tactile sensation (pleasure from the sense of touch and being touched)
  • Life-changing spiritual experiences
  • Sensations bright and intense
  • Urge to hug and kiss people
  • Analgesia, anti-nocioception, decreased pain perception

The Side Effects:

Since it’s a drug (and a popular one at that), it does have some side effects. Make sure you don’t worry when you feel:

  • Overwhelmed (MDMA can overwhelm you. This is not something you should worry about. Just let the substance take over you.)
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Jaw clenching
  • Eye wiggles
  • Increase in body temperature, hyperthermia, dehydration
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Short-term memory scramble or loss
  • Erectile disfunction and difficulty reaching orgasm
  • Mild depression and fatigue for up to a week
  • Sadness on coming down, sense of loss or immediate nostalgia
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Increase in body temperature

Regarding having sex on MDMA, users might feel increased physical sensations, but the vast majority of males have a difficulty in achieving erection due to the increased serotonin levels. Also reaching organsm is harder than usual.

When Will It Kick In? And How Long Will It Last?

If you take MDMA orally, you will notice its effects in 30-45 minutes. Some users may experience the effects in just 20 minutes and then there are others who might not feel anything for 60 minutes. It depends upon a lot of factors like the dosage, your metabolism, and whether you are taking the drug with food. First-time users may take more than an hour to experience its effects because mild anxiety can suppress its effects. A typical mistake that first-timers often commit is to take another dose if nothing happens in 45-60 minutes. Bad decision. This can be dangerous, so don’t do it. Be patient.

As the drug begins to take effect, you might experience a sense of light-headedness and tingling skin. You may also feel chilled or warm.

MDMA also produces some desirable effects. It might make you feel good and energetic. Depending upon the dosage, these effects may last 3 to 5 hours. The high is unlikely to last longer than that. As the effect wears off, you will start feeling tired. You will probably not want to eat anything and experience fatigue for one or two days.

What Is The Right Dosage?

Let’s discuss the most important part – the dosage. It’s best to start with smaller doses. Don’t take more than 100 mg if it is your first time. A small percentage of users are susceptible to heart or liver problems. If you are one of them, avoid MDMA or at least stick to smaller dosages.

Safe dosage:

Most people: 75-125mg

Small or sensitive people: 60-90mg

Large or less sensitive people: 110-150mg

Strong people: 150-200mg

Heavy people: 200mg+

Guidelines by body weight: 1.54mg/kg or 0.7mg/lb.

Optional Redose: You may take ½ of the first dose, after 2 or 3 hours.

What Are The Overdose Symptoms ?

If MDMA is consumed in high doses, you may experience non-fatal symptoms of overdose. These include:

  • Elevated heart rate and body temperature
  • Chest pain
  • Tremors
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations/delirium
  • Anxiety, panic attacks, agitation, and extreme paranoia

After Taking MDMA:

  • Take it easy and give your body a chance to recover
  • Rest, drink lots of fluids, and eat well
  • Don’t do pills or powders for a few weeks to improve your chances of recovering properly
  • You may experience depression or mood swings for a few days. If you are resting and eating well, these side effects are unlikely to last longer than a day. If these symptoms persist, get medical help
  • If you experienced a bad time after taking MDMA, post your experience on websites and tell people at your local drug-project. Tell them what drug you consumed and how it felt. They will be able to learn a lot of things from your experience.

Watch For These Warning Signs:

If you are at a party where the use of MDMA is sanctioned, let the paramedics manage everything.

Note: If you feel that something isn’t right, do not hesitate to get help or call an ambulance.

Serotonin Syndrome (excess serotonin): You may experience this problem within minutes. The symptoms include increased heart rate, twitching, shivering, extremely high temperatures and overly sensitive reflexes. Drug interactions can be lethal so be careful with them.

Hyponatremia (electrolyte disturbance): Common symptoms are spasms, cramps, nausea, and vomiting. To get better, take some sports drinks.

Hepatic Damade (liver toxicity): Possible with drug interactions. Milk thistle (silymarin) supplement can be helpful.

Hyperthermia (overheating): Symptoms are hot and dry skin and headaches. Drink plenty of fluids and get rest.

Health Concerns and Risks:

If you have known health problems, you aren’t supposed to take MDMA. This drug isn’t recommended for individuals who:

  • Have a pre-existing heart condition – for example, coronary artery blockage
  • Serious lung disease/Asthma
  • Don’t take MDMA if you can’t engage in mild to moderate physical activity (walking or biking) for a few hours.
  • Compromised Immune System: MDMA is like any other drug. It strains your body, especially your immune system. If you are otherwise healthy, this might just mean catching a cold the next day. But if you have a compromised immune system, the side effects of taking MDMA can be dangerous. There are several causes of a suppressed immune system such as AIDS or anti-rejection drugs given to organ transplant patients.
  • Diabetes- If you have diabetes and want to use Ecstasy, do so in a controlled environment like home and monitor your blood sugar levels.
  • Depression: When it comes to MDMA, depressed and non-depressed people have the same medical risks. However, depressed people are more likely to become addicted to MDMA. MDMA is a highly powerful antidepressant and may provide temporary relief from the symptoms of depression. Unfortunately, MDMA will cause a temporary impact on the serotonin system after use. This will make the depression worse and encourage the person to take another dose. This creates a destructive cycle.
  • Pregnancy: MDMA might increase the risk of birth defects in unborn babies. It might also lead to a lower birth weight. Because of these reasons, MDMA isn’t recommended for pregnant women. Lactating women should also avoid its use as traces of MDMA can be found in breast milk.
  • Epilepsy: MDMA has caused seizures in some users. If you are already epileptic, your chances of having a seizure are pretty high after taking MDMA.

MDMA Dependence – Can I Get Hooked ?

Ecstasy as a drug addictive, in fact, the more you use it the less effect it has and usually weans people off it as they are no longer getting the effect they are looking for. This is why most users most users take it only once in a while. But, don’t forget, it’s still a drug, and usually is mixed with other stuff, that could get you hooked. According to the medical definition you become a long term user if you take 2 doses of 10mg/kilo/day for 4 or more days. Long term users will eventually become addicted to MDMA, it’s always best to stick to the plan and not overdo it.

Symptoms of Dependence on Ecstasy

Signs of dependence generally crop up after heavy long term use. Surprisingly, withdrawal isn’t a symptom commonly reported in Ecstasy users. The most common symptoms of Ecstasy dependence are:

  • Compulsive use of Ecstasy in spite of knowing and experiencing its ill-effects
  • Needing a lot of time to fully recover from its effects
  • Developing a tolerance to MDMA
  • Wasting a lot of time on MDMA use related activities

What Supplements to Take and Why?

If you are taking MDMA, you really need to protect yourself. It is powerful stuff that can cause some serious damage to your body. Ecstasy overdose can damage serotonin receptors and increase neurotoxicity in the brain. Proper supplements will help you protect against these harmful side effects. Get the right nutrition and stay protected. Here are some

Here are some supplements we recommend.

  1. Drink a lot of water and take supplements: By staying hydrated, you can reduce the severity of many symptoms associated with Ecstasy use. Take 250-500 ml per hour. That said, don’t drink too much water and overhydrate.
  2. Na-R-ALA: Stabilized Alpha Lipoic Acid: This is a powerful supplement that will mitigate the ill-effects of MDMA to a great extent. ALA is known to prevent neurotoxicity induced by MDMA.
  3. Vitamin C: Vitamin C is known for its antioxidant properties. It protects against neurotoxicity and organ toxicity. Best part – it’s water soluble so it’s difficult to overdose on it.
  4. Grape Seed Extract: This extract has properties that prevent MDMA from converting it into other toxic and harmful chemicals.
  5. Melatonin: Manages your sleep cycle and continues to protect your body from toxicity.
  6. EGCG: Helps your body to manage and flush out toxins.
  7. Magnesium Glycinate: Magnesium Glycinate enables your body to protect itself against excitotoxicity.
  8. Acetyl-L-carnitine: This supplement works with ALA and reduces strain on the body by protecting against neurotoxicity
  9. 5-HTP: 5-HTP helps your system restore the depleted serotonin levels.
  10. CoQ10: This substance has properties that enable it to protect your neurons against excitotoxicity.

When’s the Right Time to Take Supplements?

It is essential to take the right supplements. The intervals at which you take the supplements are very important too. Your supplement kit will have detailed instructions about how to take them and at what intervals.

Anticipation Interval: Six hours before taking the drug

This interval prepares your body for the dosing.

Includes: Grapefruit Juice (1 glass) and Magnesium Glycinate (200 mg)

Pre-game Interval: Two hours before taking ecstasy

This interval complements the previous interval. It uses compounds and antioxidants that protect against toxicity.

Gametime Interval: Two hours after taking MDMA

Now that you are experiencing the effects of the roll in full swing, you need heightened protection against toxins. This interval provides that.

Includes: Magnesium Glycinate (200 mg), Na-R-ALA (100 mg), Grape Seed Extract (100 mg), Vitamin-C (1000 mg)

Sunrise Interval: Four hours after taking the dose

This interval is meant for the hopeless party manianc. By taking an extra supplement of Na-R-ALA, you can increase your body’s defense against all night partying and redosing.

Includes: Na-R-ALA (100 mg)

Crash Interval: This should be taken before bedtime

This interval will help you wake up feeling calm and composed. Take it just before you hit the bed.

Includes: Melatonin (5-10 mg)

Aftermath Interval: Need to be taken the 3 nights following dosing

This interval will help your body get back to reality and restore your reduced serotonin levels

Includes: 5-HTP (100 mg), EGCG (400 mg)

Warning: Do not take 5-HTP prior to or on the same day of an MDMA dose. This will lead to a dangerous condition called Serotonin Syndrome. Always pair it with EGCG and wait until the next night.

Are you an idiot? No? Good… Test Your Stuff!

Source: DanceSafe

Okay, Ecstasy may contain some substances that you have no idea you are consuming. What sort of substances? Synthetic Cathinones are a common example of these substances. They are commonly found in bath salts.

Researchers have shown that less than half of the pills tested are actually MDMA. So, unless you are crazy, you wouldn’t take this powder without getting it tested.

There is yet another reason to test your stuff and that is to avoid the danger of mixing things unintentionally. Experts can usually tell you how your body will react to one substance. But if you combine one drug with another, you are becoming a drug guinea pig and it is impossible to predict how two substances will react together.

Play it safe – don’t be a guinea pig

How Can You Be Sure That the Stuff You’re Taking is MDMA?

Good question. The answer – test kit.

The only practical solution is to invest in a test kit. Or get the substance from a reliable source. However, the shady dealer round the corner might not always be counted as a reliable source, so be careful. Our advice? Buy a kit.

Test Kits:

Before taking the substance, make sure you test it. Just because the dealer says that it is safe, doesn’t make it safe. Here are some popular test kits.

  • Eztest
  • DanceSafe
  • Bunk Police

The good news is that test kits are ridiculously cheap!

Avoid Fake Stuff:

Try to obtain MDMA from dark net markets. These markets have a rating system, and are more likely to sell pure stuff.

OR

Test your stuff (eztest.com)

OR

If you are buying pressed pills, check Pill Reports and EcstasyData.

And don’t forget the most important rule: do not buy drugs from strangers, it’s possibly the riskiest mistake you can make, and most probably you will not have fun.

Avoid Mixing MDMA With:

  1. Amphetamines: It is a bad idea to mix MDMA with amphetamines. You should also avoid mixing it with Cocaine. The MDMA- Cocaine combination could cause death. Besides, when MDMA is mixed with Cocaine, you are unlikely to feel its effects, so what’s the point?
  2. Alcohol: You could perhaps consume a little alcohol after taking Ecstasy, but you must resist the temptation to get drunk.
  3. Antidepressants: Don’t take antidepressants before or during rolling. They can cause harm. Also, antidepressants will greatly reduce the positive effects of MDMA. So, again, what’s the point huh? Tobacco smokers will find an urge to smoker more than usual, try as much as you can to avoid this, tobacco does not interact with MDMA, but is not good for your health.
  4. Don’t consume 5-HTP during rolling: It is extremely beneficial after rolling, but you must not take it during rolling. Take it 12 hours after rolling.
  5. Also avoid: 2C-T2, 2C-T7, 4-MTA, PMA, Caapi, Syrian Rue, Ayahuasca, DXM, MXE, aMT, Yohimbe and most opioids.
  6. Avoid taking MDMA with MAOIs.

Here’s to Some Good Time

In the end, it’s all about having a blast. So make sure you’re with your friends and have a good collection of music. We would recommend a strong minty gum and some Vicks Vaporub to increase the fun (Many people simply love the way it feels on their skin and makes them roll even harder). And when it seems to wear off, get some caffeine to keep the ball rolling. Make sure you don’t combine drugs (as mentioned above). Oh and yes, don’t snort it, or you’ll ruin the effect.

Some other things that are awesome:

  • Music – the good kind
  • Snow cones
  • Massages – the slow ones, they’re really good
  • Oh, and you – you’re awesome too!

Why Am I Giving You My Two Cents?

Well buddy, I have seen a lot of youngsters who take MDMA. Many of them don’t know that it is possible to reduce the damage by taking some simple precautions and supplements. This site doesn’t want to promote the use of MDMA. It just wants to explain ways to reduce the damage. Drugs can be quite dangerous; natural approaches to life is best, but if you insist on experimenting, get informed, know what you are taking, and use responsibly and safely.

Please share this guide with your friends on Facebook or Twitter!

Sources:

Special thank you go to Daniel B. Holeman, and the godfather of MDMA research Alexander Shulgin.

7 Ways to Reduce the MDMA Hangover

MDMA has been a massively popular party drug for 30 years, since first escaping into the wild in the dance club scenes in Dallas and Austin in the mid-1980s (and promptly being criminalized by the DEA).

The drug is very appealing for people who want to really get into the music and party all night long. An amphetamine-type stimulant, MDMA produces energy, enthusiasm and glowing, lovey-dovey feelings, and it makes those beats feel just right. It can make for a great night out. But leaving aside the possibility of overdose and death, which is rare, but can happen—especially because people don’t always know what they’re taking—MDMA users still face the dire prospect of the morning after.

The comedown can be brutal. After a hard night of rolling, the day after Ecstasy is sometimes lethargic, depleted and even depressed. The phenomenon is very common for first-time and regular users.

The biochemical reason is rooted in what happens when you take MDMA; it releases large amounts of feel-good neurotransmitters—serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine—that provide users with sensations of empathy, energy and well-being, but in so doing, also depletes the supply of those neurotransmitters in the user’s system. With low levels of these substances in their bodies, people feel washed out, tired and mopey.

But it’s not just the biochemistry of MDMA. People who are using Molly tend to stay up all night, engage in vigorous, even frantic activities—i.e. dancing for hours to 130-160 beats per minute—and may be using other drugs and/or alcohol as well. It’s no wonder people on MDMA don’t feel so hot the next day.

There is no instant cure, but there are steps users can take to reduce the pain and get over the hangover. Be advised that it helps to do these things before as well as after taking MDMA.

1. Know what you are taking. MDMA is illegal, thus unregulated. There are many pills being sold as MDMA that don’t contain MDMA or contain other drugs as well as MDMA. The first step toward not feeling like crap the morning after is not ingesting crap the night before. Check with pill-testing websites such as Ecstasy Data or Pill Reports for warnings about adulterated or otherwise bad pills. Better yet, test the stuff yourself with kits like those offered by DanceSafe.

2. Replenish the body’s supply of neurotransmitters. You had your fun, and now it’s time to pay the piper. You’ve splurged on a gusher of neurotransmitters and now you have to replenish. To re-up your serotonin supply, the best thing is to take tryptophan or 5-HTP, both of which are chemical precursors to serotonin. To re-up your dopamine supply, take Velvet Bean (mucuna pruriens), which contains the dopamine precursor levodopa.

3. Fight oxidative stress. MDMA can cause oxidative stress. While oxidation is a normal metabolic process in the body as it uses energy, metabolizes proteins and nutritive chemicals, and breaks larger molecules into smaller ones using enyzmes, oxidation can go into overdrive when using MDMA. That means potentially neurotoxic free radicals (or “oxidative radicals”) are produced at a faster rate than the body can generate or replenish antioxidant molecules. People using MDMA should be ingesting antioxidants, both before and after rolling. Antioxidants are common in dark colored fruits and vegetables—think berries, cherries, some apples, red and black beans, russet potatoes—but someone who is doing or recovering from MDMA probably doesn’t have the appetite for downing a lot of food. Another means of ingesting antioxidants is by taking vitamins, particularly Vitamins A, C, and E. The vitamins can be taken with other supplements; the experiental drug website Erowid has a couple of examples (scroll to bottom of page).

4. Drink plenty of liquids, especially fresh juices, but not alcohol. MDMA’s dehydrating effects are well-known. Users should compensate by staying well hydrated while under the influence and the following days. Water is fine, but fresh juices are going to have those nutrients and antioxidants the body needs. Alcohol won’t. And it’s probably wise not to drink alcohol while on MDMA. Users are already looking at one hangover; why double down?

5. Eat well. Having a healthy, well-balanced diet is just plain good for you. And it will make you better able to cope with whatever morning-after effects you’re dealing with. You may not have much of an appetite the next day, but being well-nourished before you start will ease the suffering later.

6. Sleep. If you’ve been up all night, this seems obvious. And it’s going to give your body a chance to reenergize.

7. Do less MDMA, less often. As the existence of the hangover suggests, MDMA is hard on you. Take only as much as you need to reach your desired state, and try to define your desired state as something less than bouncing off the wall. If you’re taking two pills, try taking just one. And the longer the interval between doses, the more time you have to recover. If you’re taking MDMA on Friday night, don’t do it on Saturday night. If you’re taking it once a week, try to cut back to once a month. Savor the experience; don’t run it (and yourself) into the ground.

The Research on the Effectiveness of Foam Rolling

Earlier this week we published an article on the 4 common mistakes runners make when using the foam roller. In that article, we simply brushed over the idea that foam rolling works.

Of course, we got a lot of emails from savvy readers like you that wanted to see the proof.

And we appreciate it! After all, we’re not about fluff here at RunnersConnect and we want to substantiate every piece of advice we give you.

Since foam rolling is so new, there hasn’t been much research published on it until recently. But with several studies coming out in the last two years, it’s now possible to learn more about what foam rolling can do for your running.

The Science of Foam Rolling for Recovery

A study published this year in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise sought to find out whether foam rolling can reduce soreness and boost recovery by investigating the impact of a foam rolling program on post-exercise soreness following a series of squats.

In the study, twenty men with weight lifting experience were split into two groups. Both groups underwent a very fatiguing squat protocol, which consisted of ten sets of ten back squats at 60% of one-rep squat maximum. After the initial bout of squats, both groups were evaluated for their soreness level, quad and hamstring range of motion, performance on a vertical leap test, and a variety of measurements of muscle electrical activity. These measurements were repeated one, two, and three days after the squat protocol as well.

After the initial post-squat soreness and range of motion tests, half the men did a five-exercise foam rolling routine targeting the muscle groups in the thigh, while the other half did no additional exercise.

In the foam rolling routine, each muscle group was rolled twice for sixty second on each leg, for a total of about twenty minutes of foam rolling. This foam rolling routine was repeated after the one- and two-day post-exercise evaluations as well.

Designing the experiment this way ensured that the study did not merely identify a short-lived effect of foam rolling: for a difference in soreness or range of motion to be detected, it would have to be the result of the previous day’s foam rolling routine.

In the results, foam rolling had a statistically significant impact on three important measurements when compared to the control group.

  • First, it reduced muscle soreness one, two, and three days after the squat routine.
  • Foam rolling also resulted in a small but statistically significant increase in quadriceps range of motion.
  • Finally, it led to better performance in a vertical leap test.

While it’s hard to apply these results too directly to running, it does look like good news: less soreness and better performance on a vertical leap test both suggest that foam rolling can give your recovery a potent boost, and allow you to run better in subsequent workouts.

And improvements in range of motion could open up new possibilities for treating and preventing injuries, which often are associated with poor range of motion in a particular muscle group.

Foam rolling and range of motion

The range of motion issue was investigated more directly in a study published last year by Graham MacDonald and other researchers at Memorial University of Newfoundland in Canada.

This study looked at the “acute” effects of foam rolling—the immediate benefits you get within a few minutes of finishing a foam rolling routine. To do so, they evaluated the range of motion and maximum strength of the quadriceps muscle in eleven men before and after two sets of one minute of a foam rolling exercise which targeted the quads.

Like the previous study, foam rolling had a small but noticeable impact on range of motion.

  • After only two minutes of foam rolling, quadriceps range of motion increased by ten degrees, but less than one degree after a control trial of two minutes’ rest.
  • Moreover, the increase in range of motion persisted for at least ten minutes after the foam rolling; the study participants still had nearly nine degrees more motion at their knee joint after foam rolling, versus only one and a half degrees after rest.

Ongoing research

Still, there’s a lack of scientific evidence on foam rolling for runners specifically. Undoubtedly, lifting weights is very different than doing a hard 10k on a hilly course.

Can foam rolling help in these kinds of situations too?

That’s the topic of research currently underway at the University of Minnesota. A study led by Emma Lee, a graduate student in kinesiology, is examining whether foam rolling can boost recovery after a session of downhill running.

Downhill running is a form of eccentric exercise, which is where muscle fibers lengthen and contract at the same time, and has been shown to cause soreness and impair running economy,” she says.

Lee’s study aims to uncover whether a one-time session of intense foam rolling after a downhill run will have a detectable effect on running economy and performance in a 3k time trial. If it does, this study will further cement foam rolling as an invaluable recovery tool after a hard workout, long run, or a race.

Why foam rolling works

The underlying biology of foam rolling is not yet clear—what’s the mechanism by which foam rolling decreases soreness, boosts recovery, and increases range of motion?

According to Lee, manipulating connective tissue may be the key to foam rolling’s success.

Eccentric exercise damages connective tissue, which stimulates pain receptors and inhibits muscle activation,” she explains. Using a foam roller might help repair damage to your connective tissue, thereby decreasing soreness and preventing a drop in performance after a hard workout—a hypothesis also forwarded by MacDonald et al.

However, more work needs to be done to confirm this theory.

Conclusion (and tips for foam rolling)

Our knowledge on foam rolling is still in its infancy, but there are still some useful tips to be gained from the research done so far.

  • Foam rolling is a fairly effective way to increase a muscle’s range of motion in the short term and decrease soreness when done daily. Current research supports rolling for two one-minute segments per muscle group every day following a tough workout or a hard race.
  • There also appear to be some benefit to using a dense foam roller: MacDonald et al. cite research which proposes that a hard foam roller, made by wrapping a thin layer of foam over a solid PVC pipe, is more effective at manipulating connective tissue than a softer all-foam roller, but it’s unclear what firmness is ideal, and whether a roller can be too hard.

There’s sure to be more research published in the next few years, but so far, foam rolling looks like a cheap, easy, and very promising recovery method.

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“Think of fascia as the sausage casing surrounding every muscle fiber, every organ, every nerve fiber, every bone in the human body,” de Mille, says. The analogy isn’t that far off. Have you ever noticed a thin, almost see-through layer of tissue coating your chicken breasts? That’s fascia, de Mille says.

Within the muscle, this fascia exists in multiple layers. First, it wraps around every individual muscle fiber or cell. Then, it wraps around bundles of muscle fibers, called fasciculi. Lastly, it wraps around the entire muscle body. Together, these layers of fascia, apart from helping to give muscle its shape, attach to tendons and bones to help you pull, push, squat, run, bike, whatever it is you want to do.

The thing is, all on its own, muscle fascia is pretty solid and not very pliable, Costa says. That could theoretically limit range of motion, or give you that feeling of stiff, tight muscles.

That’s especially true if the fibers that make up your muscle fascia form what’s called “adhesions” or “trigger points,” de Mille says. “Ideally, all of these fibers are sliding by each other with ease as you move, like silky hair, but sometimes these fibers can get like hair that got some ice cream in it and it’s all stuck together.” Experts say that these tangles in fascia can form for a variety of reasons such as muscle injury, inactivity, disease, inflammation, or trauma. For whatever reason, “the tissue binds to each other, loses elasticity, and forms taut bands of tissue that can be painful,” de Mille says. Myofascial release may help separate these fibers and re-establish the integrity of the tissue.

“Muscle fascia displays a thixotropic behavior, where, when it is moved it becomes more compliant and malleable,” he says. So, he explains, applying pressure and moving the fascia, even microscopically, could allow the fascia, and therefore the muscles, to separate, relax, and become more flexible.

Meanwhile, foam rolling could also improve your workouts by literally warming your muscles. “The friction induced by foam rolling on targeted muscles might also help to increase temperature of the fascia and muscles,” Costa says. Warming up your muscles before exercise helps loosen up the tissues and joints and increase range of motion—which helps you move better during your workout and protect you from injury.

Post-workout, increasing blood flow to the tissues you just used can help speed up recovery time, Dan Giordano, D.P.T., C.S.C.S., co-founder of Bespoke Treatments Physical Therapy, tells SELF. In fact, it’s one of the best ways to help minimize that lingering post-workout soreness known as delayed-onset muscle soreness, or DOMS.

However, Macgregor argues that foam rolling isn’t about myofascial release at all, but instead neurological changes within the muscles themselves.

“It seems more likely that, when we foam roll, imbedded nerve receptors are being stimulated in that region, rather than any structural alterations occurring,” he says. “This can still lead to a perceived ‘releasing’ effect, which is the feeling that people seek when they foam roll.” While he says scientists can still only speculate about the exact mechanisms, it’s possible that foam rolling triggers receptors that talk to the brain, and the brain responds by instructing the muscle cells to more or less loosen the heck up.

de Mille, who believes it’s likely that foam rolling benefits come from myofascial release plus neurological changes working together, adds that foam rolling may work by helping to tell your nervous system to reduce pain signals from the muscle. (That’s the idea behind the popular TheraGun and other similar self-massage tools.)

And that brings us to the hurts-so-good pain that is foam rolling, the explanation for which is actually pretty simple.

“When you apply pressure to these hardened bands of tissue, you stimulate the pain receptors that are compressed within them,” de Mille says.

Do foam muscle rollers actually do your body any good?

Foam rolling was once for professional athletes only. These days it’s hard to walk into a gym without tripping over somebody rolling around on a neoprene tube.

Dedicated classes in hip New York gyms are frequented by the likes of Sarah Jessica Parker and Shakira. Forget protein shakers, resistance bands or Fitbits: foam rollers are this season’s must-have gym accessory.

The rise of foam rollers owes much to the Israeli engineer and physicist Moshe Feldenkrais, whose pioneering work on body movements to improve muscle function became popular in the 1950s.

A black belt in judo, Feldenkrais incorporated them into his system for physical improvement when he came across them in the US a couple of decades later.

More recently, the American sports therapist Michael Clark helped introduce these accessories to the general population with his 2001 book, Integrated Training for the New Millennium. The first US patent for a foam roller was filed as recently as 2004.

Shape Created with Sketch. The exercise it takes to burn off high-calorie foods

Show all 10 left Created with Sketch. right Created with Sketch. Walk off: 26 minutes. Run off: 13 minutes. JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images

2/10 Standard chocolate bar – 229 calories

Walk off: 42 minutes. Run off: 22 minutes. Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images

3/10 Chicken and bacon sandwich – 445 calories

Walk off: 1 hour 22 minutes. Run off: 42 minutes. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

4/10 One quarter of a large pizza (449kcal)

Walk off: 1 hour 23 minutes. Run off: 43 minutes. Getty Images

5/10 Medium mocha coffee – 290kcal calories

Walk off: 53 minutes. Run off: 28 minutes. Getty Images

6/10 Packet of crisps – 171 calories

Walk off: 31 minutes. Run off: 16 minutes. Evan-Amos/Creative Commons

7/10 Dry roasted peanuts – 50g – 296kcal

Walk off: 54 minutes. Run off: 28 minutes. Getty Images

8/10 Iced cinnamon roll – 420 calories

Walk off: 31 minutes. Run off: 16 minutes. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

9/10 One bowl of cereal – 172 calories

Walk off: 31 minutes. Run off: 16 minutes. Getty Images

10/10 Blueberry muffin – 265 calories

Walk off: 48 minutes. Run off: 25 minutes. Isabelle Hurbain-Palatin/Creative Commons

1/10 Sugary soft drink – 330ml – 138 calories

Walk off: 26 minutes. Run off: 13 minutes. JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images Walk off: 42 minutes. Run off: 22 minutes. Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images Walk off: 1 hour 22 minutes. Run off: 42 minutes. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images Walk off: 1 hour 23 minutes. Run off: 43 minutes. Getty Images Walk off: 53 minutes. Run off: 28 minutes. Getty Images Walk off: 31 minutes. Run off: 16 minutes. Evan-Amos/Creative Commons Walk off: 54 minutes. Run off: 28 minutes. Getty Images Walk off: 31 minutes. Run off: 16 minutes. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images Walk off: 31 minutes. Run off: 16 minutes. Getty Images Walk off: 48 minutes. Run off: 25 minutes. Isabelle Hurbain-Palatin/Creative Commons

For the uninitiated, the practice involves applying your own body weight to a foam cylinder, using small repetitive undulating movements to exert pressure on the muscle.

The internet is full of guides on how to do this right: YouTube contains more than 600,000 videos that match the term; a quick hunt on a search engine returns about 40 million hits.

Despite this, scientific evidence to support the practice remains surprisingly limited. So does it work – and if so, how?

Most people understand that stretching before exercise is important; it loosens you up and improves your flexibility. But too much stretching – meaning upwards of 60 seconds – will weaken your muscles and could hamper your workout.

One of foam rolling’s big selling points is that it can improve flexibility to a similar extent as stretching, but with an important added bonus – it doesn’t impair strength. Foam rolling can also improve performance if combined with stretching.

This may be better than doing one or the other, but as yet the research evidence is inconclusive.

Meanwhile, we can now say with confidence that foam rolling is better than doing nothing. Recent work from our lab at the University of Stirling, carried out along with Malcolm Fairweather of Sportscotland, tested the effect of foam rolling on a group of volunteers doing leg extension exercises.

We found that it required less effort for them to complete the exercise after two minutes of foam rolling than after two minutes of rest. Thanks to this reduction in effort, volunteers who repeated this for three days were able to perform better leg extensions than those who did not foam roll each day.

Experts are still sceptical over the benefits of foam rollers ()

Foam rolling has also shown promise as a way of recovering from exercise, by reducing muscle soreness. Since muscle soreness can severely hinder healthy muscle function, managing this problem can help people perform better next time around.

Beyond this, there is still much we don’t know. One big issue is that we are not still not sure how foam rolling works on the body.

For years, it was regarded as a way of releasing tension from the soft connective tissue known as fascia that forms a kind of matrix around the entire human body – including muscles, bones, organs and nerves.

Researchers have become sceptical about this, however: given the amount of force required to manipulate the fascia, many think it more likely that the pressure applied by foam rolling may be acting on the nervous system instead.

The findings on using rolling to avoid muscle soreness provide additional evidence here. We know that this pain relief is not related to “warming” the muscles, while there is only limited evidence that foam rolling increases blood flow.

Were either of these the case, it would suggest the benefit is coming from stimulating soft tissue in the area in question. But if we rule both of these out it suggests there must be a more global or neurological response taking place.

All the research so far has looked at the immediate and short-term effects of foam rolling. Our understanding of the longer-term effects remains cloudy.

Using a foam roller can prevent over-stretching and improve exercise performance ()

So while we know that foam rolling both before and after taking exercise can complement your training programme, we can’t say for sure whether these benefits continue into the future.

And while it has previously been shown that foam rolling has no negative effect on athletic performance in the short term, we still can’t say for certain that there are no detrimental long-term effects.

We also don’t have enough evidence to say how best to use foam rollers. Researchers have adopted protocols that vary from between one and five bouts of foam rolling per exercise session, and from anywhere between five seconds and two minutes.

There is no suggestion that longer durations are better, so if in doubt, keep your rolling brief.

On the other hand, researchers are finding that you need repeated bouts to increase your range of movement. So if flexibility is your goal, you should roll and repeat at least twice during a session – just make sure nobody trips over you while you’re doing it.

Lewis Macgregor is a lecturer in sport, health and exercise science at the University of Stirling and Angus Hunter is a reader in exercise physiology at the University of Stirling. This article was originally published on The Conversation (theconversation.com)

9 Foam Roller Dos and Don’ts

Your foam roller likely came with a guide showing you sample exercises, and you can easily find more exercises guides and videos online that are suited to your specific needs. Before you start using your foam roller, though, we thought you’d like to know a little more about it:

Foam rolling is also called self-myofascial release (SMR), which is a medical-sounding way to say “self-massage.” You can use a roller, a ball like a tennis or lacrosse ball, or just your hands; as long as you are applying your bodyweight pressure to trigger points (or the knots that form in your muscles) and the connective tissue, you are practicing SMR.

When you’re experiencing tight muscles or trigger points, it doesn’t mean you’re necessarily doing anything wrong, but there could be things you want to pay more attention to in the future. A number of factors could cause this type of pain or discomfort, including incorrect posture, diet, hydration, whether you warmed up properly before exercising, or even stress.

When you use controlled pressure to release trigger points and break up muscle knots, circulation is improved and your normal blood flow should resume. You’ll start to feel normal again, ready to resume your regular exercise regimen.

DOS AND DON’TS:

DO research different foam rollers before deciding which one is best for you. There are different lengths and diameters available; there are even half rollers that lay flat on the floor for improved balance. Most rollers are roughly six inches in diameter; lengths vary from 12 to 36 inches. If you’re rolling your upper back and shoulders, a longer roller ensures you won’t fall off the ends. For single-arm and single-leg rolling, a shorter roller should suffice. A shorter roller is also more convenient to take with you to work or the gym. The density also varies among foam rollers; softer rollers are perfect for beginners, though their lifespan isn’t as long as the denser alternatives.

DO expect a little bit of pain. We’ll be honest; foam rolling hurts a bit. But that’s normal when you’re applying firm pressure directly to a tight or sore muscle. It should be a “good hurt,” though—never unbearable, sharp pain, just a little bit uncomfortable. When you are done with your foam-rolling session, the pain should feel much better. (If a sore area is too painful for even a little pressure, try rolling on the surrounding area first, to help loosen things up.)

DON’T roll directly on a joint or a bone.

DO seek the advice of a professional if you have neck pain; the neck is too sensitive for foam rolling, and you could cause yourself serious injury.

DON’T roll your lower back; this will cause the spine to contract in an effort to protect the spine. For lower back pain, try a tennis or lacrosse ball instead, or ask a professional.

DO roll slowly—no more than one inch per second. Never roll in a fast back-and-forth motion.

DO roll over each trigger point 5-10 times, spending no more than 20-30 seconds on each tender spot.

DON’T roll to the point of excessive soreness; it’s not supposed to be an exercise in pain tolerance. Placing too much sustained pressure on one body part can result it further damage.

DO wait 24-48 hours between foam-rolling sessions. Your body needs time to recover. Stay hydrated, eat healthy foods and get enough rest between sessions.

There are many recovery tools at a runner’s disposal and one in particular stands out as essential: the foam roller.

Foam rolling, also known as self-myofascial release is an inexpensive tissue massage that a runner can do for herself. Rolling can be done after a long run, workout, or even a long day of accumulated stress.

WHY SHOULD YOU USE A FOAM ROLLER?

Over time, running and exercise creates tightness in the connective tissue. This connective tissue, called fascia, is typically elastic. Fascia connects to the muscles, bones, and ligaments to support movement. When this tissue remains elastic, we have a full range of motion, perform optimally, and experience muscle balance, lessening the potential for injury. When the fascia is tight due to workouts, stress, posture and other causes, it takes longer to recover and performance suffers. Simply stretching does not effectively release this tension, but foam rolling does.

The ultimate goal of foam rolling is to restore primary function to the muscles. These muscles include (but not limited to!) the calves, upper back, quads, IT bands and outer thighs, hamstrings, and glutes. When the fascia connecting to these muscles and ligaments are nurtured and cared for, the whole system – aka the runner! – benefits.

HOW SHOULD YOU USE A FOAM ROLLER?

Tune into how your body feels before, during and after the run. Note where there is tightness, soreness, and where you are holding tension. When foam rolling, allow for 1-2 minutes for each muscle of focus. It is important to slowly roll over these areas, using your weight to roll back and forth.

Avoid putting all your weight on your arms as you navigate the foam roller, as best you can. Expect discomfort. As you hit an especially tight or sore spot, called a trigger point, hold with pressure for 30-45 seconds. This will help to release the tension. If this area is too painful, roll slowly on the surrounding area. Avoid contact with bones and joints, including your spine. When rolling your back, start with one side and focus on the muscle.

Be sure to breathe fully and completely as you roll. Allow yourself to relax onto the foam roller, repeating a mantra, if needed, internally. (“Breathe in, breathe out” is a suggestion!) There may be additional soreness up to 24 hours after rolling. Rolling, therefore, can be done a few times a week to start and slowly become part of a regular routine.

BENEFITS OF USING A FOAM ROLLER

–Speeds up recovery
–Reduces muscle soreness
–Breaks adhesions and scar tissue buildup
–Increases blood flow
–Improves performance and range of motion
–Lengthens the muscles and prevents injury
–Corrects muscle imbalance
–Prompts detoxification via lymph movement
–Increases the joy of running

Confession: I’ve been running for four years, and up until a month ago, I’d never used a foam roller. No, I don’t live under a rock. I was just comfortable (admittedly too comfortable) with my post-workout stretching routine and had never gotten around to buying one. But, after running my first ever marathon in early November, where I overheard even more hype about the benefits of foam-rolling in the starting corrals, I decided it was time for a new challenge: rolling out my muscles every day for a month.

But before diving in headfirst, I consulted a pro to learn exactly how—and how often—I should be doing the deed, as well the types of results I could expect. Anthony Carroll, a full time Physical Therapist in the Department of Physical Therapy at the University of Delaware, set a few guidelines. The most basic one? Don’t overdo it.

“I’ve seen people bruise themselves because they go too far,” he said, suggesting that, as a foam rolling rookie, I should start with about one to two minutes per muscle group. “It’s important to listen to your body and since you’re new to foam rolling, start out slowly and work your way up to longer rollouts.”

As for extra tight areas: “You can spend an additional minute or two holding the roller over pressure points, “ he advised. It helps relax and lengthen the muscle tissue. “But that’s a personal preference.”

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His third tip: “In general, harder surfaces are better, but if you’re new, it could be good to start with a softer, non-textured roller.” Here’s where confession number two comes in: Maybe I’m a masochist, or maybe I just couldn’t resist the fresh, rubbery smell of the high-end rollers on display at my local running store, but I ignored his advice and bought myself a TriggerPoint Grid X. Sorry, Anthony. I paid for this decision later: read on to learn how.

Finally, he offered some caveats about the results I could expect: “The data is still in its infancy on what it will do for you,” he said, “but there are preliminary studies that suggest it can reduce soreness if done daily, can increase your range of motion, and can delay the onset of muscle soreness after exercise, which could help your performance in that you’re able to push harder and start sooner.”

Less soreness and faster runs? I was sold.

When to foam roll

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