What is Foam Rolling & How to Use a Foam Roller

Foam Rollers – Self Massage Tool for Tight Muscles

Foam rollers have long been used by physical therapists and professional trainers to help their clients either achieve better performance or to aid in rehabilitation. More recently, foam rollers have gained popularity among those of us who simply want to work out the kinks after a workout or who want to relieve sore or tight muscles.

Types of foam rollers

Foam rollers come in different densities, surface textures, diameters and lengths. They range in length from about 12 – 36 inches and are usually about 6 inches in diameter. The more dense the foam, the more intense the massage will be. The type of foam roller you choose will depend on your fitness goal, and darker colored rollers are usually the firmest.

There are three main types of foam rollers: soft, standard and firm.

  • Soft rollers are designed for gentle massage that feels comfortable. They won’t get into deep tissue but will ease tension.
  • Standard rollers are moderately dense creating a deeper massage  while still providing a comfortable level of cushioning.
  • Firm rollers are used when deeper penetration is needed to relieve tight muscles and to break up constricted fascia, which is the connective tissue covering muscles, to promote recovery after intense workouts.

Roll away muscle soreness and tension

These devices hydrate the muscle by bringing blood flow to areas of tightness. Using foam rollers is like a self massage where you control the direction and intensity of movement.

When used before or after exercise they increase flexibility to muscle groups and help reduce the risk of injury.

Short foam rolling sessions are best

Foam rollers are beneficial when used for short amounts of time. Laying on a roller for an extended time may feel good but will increase soreness the next day. Using them often for just a few minutes will accomplish the goal of hydrating muscles and releasing the fascia which is constricting movement.

Try doing a pre or post workout on the quadriceps (front of the legs) the hamstrings (back of the legs) and the sides of your legs. You can use a foam roller to ease tightness in your calves and your back. The reward for this extra effort will be obvious!

Additionally, after a long day sitting at a computer, a few minutes spent rolling tension out of your back will not only feel great but will help avoid lingering muscle pain.

Mastering the foam roller

It might be a bit awkward when you first try using a foam roller but it doesn’t take long to get familiar with how to smoothly roll out the kinks and soreness that often follows exercising.

If you would like help choosing the right foam roller for your needs, or how to best use it, we would be happy to get your started using this simple yet effective fitness tool!