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November 15, 2021 9 min read

Is post-exercise muscle soreness getting in the way of your daily life? Although having muscle soreness following a workout is normal for most athletes and gym-goers, it doesn’t mean you have to suffer through it day after day. Incorporating some foam roller exercises into your daily workout routine can stave off much of the soreness you may experience.

Most athletes and those who have regular fitness routines typically work out for days in a row despite the sore muscles they may have.

Because of this, many use a foam roller to supply the myofascial release their muscles need.

Top down view of a black foam roller on a fitness mat over old parquet floor,

Benefits of Foam Roller Exercises

Since high-intensity exercise often causes muscle soreness, it is important to include a routine that is designed to help reduce the soreness so you can continue with your daily activities. Using a foam roller is a great way to combat any tenderness you may experience after your workout.Whether you are recovering from a heavy strength training session or an intense cardio workout, the benefits of foam rolling can help relieve some of the stresses caused by the routine. 

Here are some benefits of foam roller exercises:

  • Enhance Recovery Time: Research shows that when you incorporate the use of a foam roller at the beginning or end of a workout, you can assist the recovery process along. Doing this for just either a few sessions per week, or in conjunction with your daily workout can help your muscles recover that much faster.
  • Alleviate Back Pain: For many people, working out at any level can be a challenge, especially if they have back pain of any kind. Using the foam roller after a workout can help to relieve the back pain that many people experience.
  • Increase Flexibility and Mobility: In some cases, especially for those who are older, flexibility and mobility are a common concern. Performing foam rolling exercises can assist in increasing the ability to move and stretch the body for various purposes.
  • Reduce Muscle Tenderness: After an intense workout session, many people look for ways to alleviate the tenderness and pain they experience. Using a foam roller is a great way to get myofascial release, thus bringing some relief to the pain. While there are many more benefits to using the foam roller, the most important to note is the relief you may feel after you have worked out and then spent some time stretching your muscles in ways you may not have thought of before.

How Does Myofascial Release Work?

Myofascial release technique is a proven way to alleviate muscle soreness and create more mobility within your muscles. Adding pressure to the areas that are the most affected on a regular basis can help to loosen the muscles thus giving them more mobility.

The fascia is the connective tissue that surrounds the muscle. This tissue is made of collagen and is fibrous in nature. The job of the fascia is to allow muscles to move in the range of motion that they are intended to move. It also holds the muscles together thus supporting them.

Many people have used massage as a way of getting this type of release in the muscles. Massage therapists, physical therapists, and chiropractors are trained to recognize the tense areas and know the right amount of pressure that is needed to allow the muscles to relax.

A foam roller is a great way to get self-myofascial release without having to go to a massage therapist or chiropractor. In fact, many gyms have foam rollers that can be used directly after your workout. Additionally, you can also purchase one to have at home for when those sore muscles kick in.

How to Perform Exercises Using a Foam Roller


By focusing on the larger muscle groups, you will easily be able to find those trigger points that are causing the tension in your muscles. The foam roller is designed for you to roll it over the various parts of your body.

  1. Once you have chosen the target area, you will slowly glide back and forth until you find a tender spot. 
  1. When you have found the area needing some attention, slow the motion down and isolate the area by moving only a short distance on either side of the sore muscle. 
  1. Continue to roll and add pressure for about 10-30 seconds, depending on your level of tolerance.
  1. If you are just starting out with a foam roller, it is suggested that you go slowly and hold positions for less time until you get used to the pressure it causes.
  1. Most people starting out will hold a specific position for about 10 seconds then work their way up to holding for about 30 seconds on affected areas.
  1. As with most exercise and stretching routines, it is always important to listen to your body for any pain that is not associated with regular soreness. 
  1. Additionally, if something is causing you extensive pain during the session, you should stop and assess for other issues that may require a healthcare professional’s opinion.

7 Most Effective Foam Roller Stretches

When it comes to working out, it is important to make sure you are including variety in your daily routines. This is because your muscles and joints need rest in between sessions to ensure they are working properly.

Depending on the type of workout you do, you may need to vary your foam rolling exercises to match.Below are some of the best foam roller exercises you can do after just about any workout session you choose to release tension in your muscles. Remember that it is recommended that you warm up before stretching any part of your body to reduce the chance of injury.

    1. Upper Back

      Whether you are suffering from poor posture, or recently went through a grueling upper back workout, a foam roller will get back in top form in no time.

         Here’s what to do:

      • Your starting position for this stretch is to lie on your back, with the foam roller placed at your upper back. Your knees should be bent with your feet flat on the floor. Arms should be crossed in front of your chest.
      • Raise your hips up off the floor, putting all of your weight on the roller.
      • Adjust your weight so that the pressure is to one side of your thoracic spine.
      • With the foam rolling up your back on one side towards your lower neck, then back down to mid-back, stop and gently add pressure to any tender spot for just a few seconds.
      • Continue for about 20-30 seconds (10 seconds if you are just starting).
      • Repeat on the other side.

        2. Lower Back

          Many people suffer from lower back pain for various reasons. Because of this, it is vital that you not only exercise to build strength in this area but you also need to take the time to stretch the low back area using foam rolling stretches for better mobility.

          Here’s how it works:

          • Sit on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
          • Place the foam roller under your lower back and your arms crossed in front of your chest.
          • Raise your hips off the floor, putting all your weight on the lower back and the roller.
          • Focusing on the muscles to the side of your spine, roll back and forth staying in the area of the lower back only, adding pressure when needed.
          • Continue for about 20-30 seconds (10 seconds if you are just starting).
          • Repeat on the other side.

            3. Lats

              Your lat muscles, which are found just below the armpits on your back, just outside of the shoulder blades, are an area of your body that gets a lot of work and is vital for good posture. Because of this, you should take care of them by giving them the foam rolling stretching they need.

              Here’s what to do:

              • Lie on your back, angled to the right side, with the foam roller positioned at your lat muscle.
              • Stretch your right arm out to the side, using your left hand for support, while keeping your right leg stretched out and your left leg bent at the knee for support.
              • Slowly begin rolling from your armpit to about mid-back, stopping to add pressure to those tight muscles as needed.
              • Continue for about 20-30 seconds (10 seconds if you are just starting)
              • Repeat on your left side.

                4. Glutes

                  The glutes are an area that requires quite a bit of extra care that a foam rolling routine will provide. Whether you are focusing on them during your workout or sitting at a desk for a majority of the day, the glutes tend to take a beating. That is why this stretching routine is the perfect way to end the day.

                  Here’s how it works:

                  • Sit carefully with your butt on the foam roller, with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor.
                  • Cross one leg over the other, resting the ankle above the opposite knee, while bracing your arms behind you.
                  • With the weight on the side of your crossed leg, slowly roll back and forth, stopping when you feel tension to apply pressure gently.
                  • Continue for about 20-30 seconds (10 seconds if you are just starting)
                  • Repeat on the other side

                    5. Quads

                      Whether you work out hard or have a desk job that keeps you from getting the movement you need, it is important to stretch out and get blood flow to the quadriceps often. A foam roller is a great way to accomplish this.

                      Here’s what to do:
                      • Lie face down on the floor in a forearm plank position with the foam roller under your quads.
                      • Slowly begin rolling from your hip flexors down to just above your knee, stopping when you need to add pressure to an area.
                      • Continue for about 20-30 seconds (10 seconds if you are just starting)

                      This stretching exercise can be done on just one leg at a time if you prefer.

                      Here’s how to do it:

                      • Just as above, lie face down on the floor in a forearm plank position with the foam roller under your right quad, keeping the right foot off the floor.
                      • Slowly begin foam rolling from your right hip flexor to your right knee, stopping to add pressure when needed.
                      • Continue for about 20-30 seconds (10 seconds if you are just starting)
                      • Repeat on the left side. Keep in mind as you are foam rolling, you will start at your left hip flexor and continue down to your left knee, pausing to add pressure to tender areas.

                        6. Hamstrings

                          Your hamstrings are a part of your body that sees a lot of action in the gym as well as in your everyday life. It is vital that you provide a great foam rolling routine that will give them the support they need.

                          Here’s what you do:
                          • Sit on the floor with the foam roller under your hamstrings with your legs extended out in front of you, arms positioned behind you for support.
                          • While lifting your body up and placing your body weight on the hamstring area, slowly begin rolling back and forth between your glutes and knees, applying pressure to the tender areas as needed.
                          • Continue for about 20-30 seconds (10 seconds if you are just starting)

                          This stretching exercise can be done on just one leg at a time if you prefer. 

                          Here’s how to do it:

                          • Sit on the floor with the foam roller under your right hamstring, while bending the left leg, foot flat on the floor for support.
                          • Lift your body up while placing the weight on the right hamstring. 
                          • Slowly roll back and forth between your right glute and knee, applying pressure to any muscle knots along the way.
                          • Continue for about 20-30 seconds (10 seconds if you are just starting)
                          • Repeat on left side

                            7. IT Band

                              If you are a runner, then you are probably familiar with the soreness that occurs along your IT, or iliotibial band. This is the connective tissue that runs along your outer thigh area from the hip to the knee. Finding foam roller moves to stretch this area is a good way to reduce the tenderness.

                              Here’s what to do:
                              • Lie on your right side with the foam roller under your right IT band. Your left leg should be crossed over your right while your body weight rests on your right forearm.
                              • With your upper body and left leg supporting you, slowly begin to roll back and forth from your glute to your knee, applying pressure when needed.
                              • Continue for about 20-30 seconds (10 seconds if you are just starting)
                              • Repeat on left side

                              Supplements That Support Muscle Recovery

                              Stretching with a foam roller is a great way to help your muscles recover from the brutal work they endure on a daily basis, however, it is also important to consider adding supplements to your regimen. While a personal trainer can give you some tips on the best supplements for your body, here are a few recommendations.

                              RESTED-AF

                              While incorporating a stretching routine is a great way to help your muscles recover from muscle soreness and fatigue, it is also recommended to get the appropriate amount of sleep. RESTED-AF is a recovery formula that is intended to help you get the deep sleep you need for muscle recovery and growth. Adding this scientifically created formula can help you recover while getting the sleep you need to keep going with your routine.

                              HYPERADE

                              HYPERADE is an electrolyte replacement formula that is designed to help restore the muscle glycogen that you tend to lose during a high-intensity workout. This supplement can be taken before, during, and after a workout to help you maintain and replenish your electrolytes thus allowing you to train longer and harder while allowing your body to recover faster.

                              Ready to Get the Most Out of Your Workout and Recovery Routine?

                              Overall, when it comes to working out, it is important to also take care of the muscles that you work so hard at building. Finding the best foam roller exercises can do wonders for your muscle recovery process.

                              Keep in mind that when building the right workout routine for yourself, it is important to consider splitting your muscle groups and adding in a stretching routine at the end to get the best results.