How to Use a Foam Roller – 8 Exercises to Boost Recovery and Flexibility
What is foam rolling and why is it good for me?
Foam rolling – the muscle massage technique that hurts so good! Foam rolling is quickly growing in the fitness world. It’s used for self-myofascial release, or self-massage, by millions of people, not just athletes, and not just for exercise purposes. Gone are the days of paying hefty fees to visit the local massage therapist once a month. The foam rolling phenomenon has made it possible to give yourself a massage every day, any place.
Foam rolling applies sustained pressure to the myofascia, which is the tough, flexible “spider web” that surrounds and covers muscles and bones. Applying pressure stretches the tissue, releases restrictions (trigger points or “knots”), and restores elasticity and movement. Foam rolling can be used for pre-workout stretching, post-workout recovery, trigger point therapy, physical therapy, and of course, to give yourself a relaxing message after a long day at work!
How do I foam roll?
You can use the following comprehensive list of exercises to start foam rolling today. All you need is a few minutes a day to maintain your muscle health, but roll SLOWLY – don’t rush it or you won’t get the maximum benefit. While rolling, when you find a tender spot or a “knot” in your muscle network, SLOW your ROLL and rock gently from side to side on the knot. It WILL be uncomfortable. That’s the roller doing work! You have to roll regularly to keep the muscles relaxed, loose, and free of restrictions. Remember to always roll responsibly – no rolling on injured areas, and consult with your physician to ensure your body is healthy for foam rolling.
Roll your glutes back and forth on the roller. Shift your weight to apply pressure to each side. Don’t get too comfortable – this is the most relaxed rolling exercise!
Let’s get it going on your hamstrings! Using your hands to keep your butt off the floor, SLOWLY roll back and forth from your glutes to just before the knees. Overlap your legs to intensify pressure. When you feel a knot, apply sustained pressure. Remember, it’s supposed to hurt!
Get in a similar position to the hamstrings exercise. This time, roll from your ankles to just below the knees. If pressure is too intense, lift your legs up slightly.
This one is intense! Using your elbows to hold your upper body up, SLOWLY roll back and forth on your quads from your hip flexors to just above the knees.
Roll on your back from your upper back to the top of your lower back. Raise your elbows up to get the shoulder blades out of the way and work trigger points under the shoulder blades. You should not roll the lower back because your rib cage, which protects the spine from excessive force, does not extend to the lower back.
Lay on one side and place the roller on your lat. Gently roll from lat to tricep. You can also stay in one position, with the roller just below your armpit, and raise your arm up and down.
7. IT BAND
Get in a side position and roll back and forth from just above your knee to just below the waist.
8. PERONEUS LONGUS
Get in a similar position as the IT band exercise, but this time roll from your ankle to just below the knee.
These 8 exercises should give you a solid start for your foam rolling routine. You can then expand on these to target specific muscles as needed. For more exercises and information on foam rolling, check out our posts on foam rolling the back, stretching the hip flexors, and stretching vs foam rolling. If you would like to receive information like this and be first in line to receive discounts on Peace of Muscle products, sign up as a VIP Member – all you need is an email address!