If you experience lower back pain or knee pain, or if you’ve ever had general muscle soreness, the foam roller can be your saving grace. For a device that you can buy for under $201, the foam roller is a must-have fitness tool.
Why use it?
A foam roller is a tool for massaging muscles. Rolling over tense and sore muscles increases circulation and relaxes the muscle group to relieve pain. Using the roller daily for a few minutes can make a huge difference with people who experience chronic muscle pain. You are rolling over sensitive/sore muscles, so it might be a little painful when you first use it, but the results are worth it.
A systematic review of foam rolling research indicates that foam rolling increases the range of motion in the joint of the muscle group you are rolling for pre- and post-exercise without negatively impacting muscle performance 2. There is some debate on the mechanisms behind foam rolling. One study3 found foam rolling increased skin temperature, changed muscle impedance, reduced muscle circumference, and increased range of motion. Interestingly the researchers found that women increased their range of motion more than men. A possible explanation for is that women tend to have more water in the tissues in and around the muscles that surround joints.
How to use it?
Using a foam roller is pretty easy. Simply place the roller towards the top of the muscle group and slowly roll back and forth over the muscle group. You should spend at least 30 – 60 seconds on each muscle group. For example, to roll out calf muscles, place the roller below your knee and roll towards your ankle and return to the starting position. You should maintain steady pressure by keeping your body weight on the roller the entire time. Start with your legs first and work your way up your body for best results.
I highly encourage you to experiment with foam rolling. Try leaning in different angles to get the right spot. Use small, fast, and slow movements over “muscle knots.” If you are new to foam rolling, start slow and build up your tolerance to the practice.
Below are six foam rolling exercises you can do:
It doesn’t matter if you are an athlete or “live” at your office desk; foam rolling will make a big difference in your flexibility and muscle soreness, allowing you to work harder to get great results!
- Amazon Basics High-Density Round Foam Roller: https://a.co/d/0tLNr0I ↩︎
- Cheatham, S. W., Kolber, M. J., Cain, M., & Lee, M. (2015). The effects of self‐myofascial release using a foam roll or roller massager on joint range of motion, muscle recovery, and performance: A systematic review. International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, 10(6), 827–838. ↩︎
- Yoshimura, A., Sekine, Y., Schleip, R., Furusyo, A., Yamazaki, K., Inami, T., Murayama, M., & Hirose, N. (2021). The acute mechanism of the self-massage-induced effects of using a foam roller. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 27, 103–112. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbmt.2021.02.012 ↩︎