Foam Rolling: The Best Kept Secret


By: Clare Harriman

Foam rolling is basically at-home deep tissue massage therapy as it relaxes and stretches muscles. By doing so it helps with correcting postural imbalances, improving faulty movement patterns, taking pressure off joints, easing muscle soreness, and keeping muscles at their original length. Foam rolling is just as important as stretching to keep you exercising many more years without injuries.

How It Works

Foam rolling is also called Self Myofascial Release (SMR). SMR targets muscle knots, or myofascial trigger points, that are points where the muscle contracted too much either from prolonged use of the same muscle or a sudden, too strenuous movement that caused the muscle fibers to spasm. This restricts the flow of nutrients and blood into that part of the muscle, which prohibits the proper function of the muscle.

Getting Started

You can find a wide range of foam rollers in all kinds of shapes and sizes. The most common rollers are white or black cylinders between 1’ and 3’ long. The white roller is made from a softer material than the black one, which results in a milder massage. Newer versions of foam rollers have gridlines or a bumpy surface for a stronger massage. You can also find myofascial release balls which allow for a more targeted massage of areas needing deeper pressure such as the gluteus muscles, calves, or for reaching into hard-to-get-to places such as the front of the hip. You can also find hand held SMR tools, like The Stick or smaller versions of foam rollers like the Trigger Point Quadballer. Most of these tools cost between $15.00 to $40.00.

By rolling on the SMR tools with your bodyweight, you push blood and nutrients back into the muscle knots and help them relax and release.

Foam Rolling Guidelines

Start off by rolling for just a few minutes and spend extra time on painful spots. The first time you foam roll it might be quite painful but it gets better quickly. If you ever had a deep tissue massage or a sports massage you know that you might experience discomfort during the massage but you will feel so much better afterward.

Give yourself a couple of days after your first session to assess for bruises and give the muscles time to recover. Some tenderness afterward is normal but you should never feel pain once off the foam roller. You can roll prior, during and after a workout for as little as a couple of minutes or as long as an hour or more depending on your needs and the amount of muscles that need to be addressed.

Still Not Convinced?

Think of your body as a Ferrari that needs regular oil changes to maintain its great performance. Foam rolling is your body’s oil change. Daily activity is enough to create muscle knots that can throw your body off. Foam rolling is a very inexpensive way to keep injuries away.

Where to Buy

Don’t worry, you don’t have to look far to find a good-quality foam roller.  Many studios, gyms and even sports stores carry foam rollers. The foam roller we recommend is  the Magic Roller by Balanced Body.

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