Foam rollers are a popular tool for helping athletes release muscle knots or trigger points. “Myofascial adhesions” is the physiological term for these inflexible areas that can be caused by muscle imbalance, overuse and injuries, among other things.

Many people develop a love/hate relationship with their foam roller. The process of rolling out knots can be quite uncomfortable, but working through the discomfort can help you increase your range of motion and decrease recovery time after a hard workout.

Before you start attacking knots with your foam roller there are three important things to understand:

  1. When to use a foam roller
  2. Basics of using a foam roller
  3. Exercises to target specific areas

The density, texture, size and shape of foam rollers affect how they are used and what they are best for. If you need help deciding what type of foam roller is right for you, see our article, Foam Rollers: How to Choose.

When to Use a Foam Roller?

For general muscle soreness, you can use a foam roller just about any time. Some people like to use a roller first thing in the morning or before going to bed. Ana Gonzalez, Certified Personal Trainer and REI employee, suggests that athletes who work out regularly engage in foam rolling immediately before or after a workout for these reasons:

Before workouts: Rollers may help loosen up muscles, allowing more efficient movement during the workout.

After workouts: Rollers may help reduce muscle soreness and shorten recovery time.

How to use foam roller?

Using a foam roller can be uncomfortable so it’s better to be too gentle, rather than too intense, when you’re starting out learning how to use a roller. You can adjust your intensity as you learn how your body responds. Generally, you’re looking for that “it hurts so good” level of discomfort. Pushing past discomfort into real pain won’t speed up results, but it will risk injury. You can actually bruise muscles by rolling too intensely.

Follow these steps to use your foam roller:

  1. Pinpoint the sore or tight area of your muscle.
  2. Control your body as you slowly lower the targeted area so it’s centered above the roller.
  3. Lower your body onto the foam roller until you reach a point of discomfort (but not pain) and hold it there.
  4. Hold for 20–30 seconds
  5. The pressure alone provides benefits, but you can also roll slowly back and forth to further stimulate the area.
  6. Continue to move slowly along the muscle with the roller, stopping and holding in the areas that need more focus.

As you’re using your foam roller, experiment with slight adjustments to your body position in order to find the most effective technique. Also, remember to breathe. Many people get so fixated on the sensation of massaging a painful knot that they forget to even take a breath.

8 Common Foam Roller Exercises

1. Calf Exercise
2. Iliotibial (IT) Band Exercise
3. Quadriceps Exercise
4. Hamstring Exercise
5. Adductor Exercise
6. Gluteus Maximus (Glutes) Exercise
7. Upper Back Exercise
8. Latissimi Dorsi (Lats) Exercise

To see video how to exercises. Please click to this link


Foam Roller Exercises