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December 13, 2021 8 min read

If you have never tried foam rolling, you might be in for a real surprise.

Foam rolling is a terrific way to get a spa-quality massage right in the comfort of your own home. Foam rollers are cheap and easy to find. In this article, we'll take a look at some of the benefits of foam rolling, as well as some expert tips to help you make the most of your very own foam roller.

Close up of a black foam roller on a fitness mat

Main Benefits of Foam Rolling

Not just for serious exercisers, foam rolling is a type of self-massage that allows you to alleviate tight spots or trigger points such as muscle knots by using a piece of equipment known as a foam roller.

Foam rolling is perfect for people who sit at a desk all day, have poor posture, recurring joint issues, or any other ailments caused by using bad form while exercising.

While it is primarily a form of stretching, foam rolling can make up a large part of your overall training goals too, no matter whether you are mostly a couch potato or an elite athlete.

Foam rolling works by reducing the amount of inflammation that can occur during the muscle repair process. Foam rolling is also a useful thing to do if you are interested in general muscle repair and recovery after a tough workout.

Over time, foam rolling may help you align your body and move with greater ease.

Consider also using a menthol muscle rub or essential oils before or after your workout routine, followed by a hot shower or bath.

Core and Spine Health 

Putting your body into new and different positions with a foam roller can lead to many benefits when it comes to improving the overall health of your core and your spine, such as improving your overall body strength and increasing the range of motion of those muscles. These are especially important factors for you to remember as you get older.

Increases Blood Flow

Foam rolling increases your blood flow as well as the elasticity of your muscle tissue, joints, and fascia (the body’s connective deep tissue). Doing the full range of motion for each exercise is useful in terms of your mobility and overall well-being, and over time it can even lead to a smoother appearance of the fat cells underneath your skin.

Improves Posture

Foam rolling can drastically improve your posture by restoring the structural balance through your shoulders. Having proportionally balanced strength and mass really contributes to great posture. Foam rolling tones your rear deltoids, which are responsible for pulling your shoulders back into position so that you look as impressive as possible.

Injury Prevention

Also, foam rolling helps prevent injuries by maintaining your muscle length and reducing the amount of tension and tightness you have. Foam rolling really promotes a feeling of relaxation and it can help you unwind after a long day because it alleviates the sore muscles that you might have as well as reducing any pain in your joints.

Using Foam Rollers to Warm Up

If you enjoy doing early morning workouts, foam rolling can be one of the best ways to stretch out specific muscle groups and prepare them to start lifting. Keep in mind that to allow your body enough time to recover properly, you should be resting for 24 to 48 hours before stretching the same muscle groups.

You will find that foam rolling can also help you create a degree of hypertrophy.

It can also help reduce the risk of injury and lower back pain. Always include a lot of rest, a good amount of time on warming up and cooling down, and a nutrition element in your workout plan. Your results will likely be based on these few variables, and also on how well you cool down and recover post-workout. 

Foam Rolling Exercises 

You can do these exercises any time you like, but they are especially good before workouts as a warmup, or after workouts to prevent soreness.

All you need is a medium-density foam roller and some open floor space. These below eight best foam roller exercises can help target some common tight areas. 

If you are a beginner, we suggest that you try to complete this routine at least three times a week. With a lot of these exercises, you might find the tension in your deep inner-core muscles intensifying quite quickly.

For all these moves, be sure to pause wherever it feels tight or tender. Inhale and then as you exhale, slowly roll your way down. Try to stretch your body in sections instead of continuously rolling back and forth.

Man foam rolling. Athlete stretches using foam roller.

Exercise #1: Working Your Quadriceps 

If a desk job keeps you inactive and sitting down throughout most of the day, it is important to periodically roll out your quadriceps as a stimulating way to get your blood flowing and keep those muscles as engaged as they can be.

To foam roll your quadriceps:

  1. Start in a forearm plank position with the roller under your quads. 
  2. Brace yourself with your upper body and core and slowly roll down the roller until it reaches just above your knees. 
  3. Then, roll in the opposite direction until you reach your hip flexors. Do this for about 30 seconds. 
  4. When you hit a tender spot, hold yourself there for a few breaths. 
  5. Try to focus on one quad first, and then the other. 

Exercise #2: Working Your Hip Flexors 

Sitting for extended periods of time can really affect your hip flexors. While stretching them is good, foam rolling them is even better because it works on loosening the muscle tissue as well as the connective tissue (fascia) that surrounds it. 

To foam roll your hip flexors:

  1. Lie down and face the floor on your foam roller in a forearm plank position. 
  2. Make sure the foam roller is underneath one of your hip flexors (for example, the right side) and your right leg is bent comfortably to the side. 
  3. Rest facedown on your forearms and roll slowly up and down and side to side on the foam roller to target the hip flexor, paying close attention to any trigger points. 
  4. Do this for about 30 seconds. Switch and repeat on the other hip flexor. 

Exercise #3: Working Your Calves 

In addition to calf stretches, you might want to try foam rolling your calf muscles to stretch them out and help relieve pain that might have built up there. This can be a little painful, but you can be sure that your legs will feel a whole lot better after just a few of these sessions.

To foam roll your calves:

  1. Sit on the floor with your legs extended and the foam roller underneath your calves. 
  2. Lift your body up so your weight is resting on the foam roller. 
  3. Cross one leg (for example, the left leg) over the other to create extra pressure. 
  4. Slowly roll your calf back and forth on the foam roller, navigating your body forward and back with your arms. 
  5. Complete this action for up to 30 seconds. 
  6. Switch legs and focus on your other calf. 

Exercise #4: Working Your Hamstrings 

Other muscles that can be negatively affected by sitting all day are your hamstrings. The foam roller can really let you exert the type of pressure you might need in that area to make your legs feel so much better.

To foam roll your hamstrings:

  1. Sit on the floor with your legs extended and position the foam roller underneath your hamstrings. 
  2. Lift your body up so your weight is resting on the foam roller and begin to slowly roll up and down between the back of your knees and your glutes. 
  3. Pause on tender spots, and roll for at least 30 seconds overall. Another effective way to do this exercise is to cross your legs and focus on only one hamstring at a time.

Exercise #5: Working Your IT Band 

Made of connective tissue, the IT band runs along your outer thigh from your hip to your knee. Soreness and tightness in this area can be quite common in runners and cyclists, but of course anyone who is experiencing this issue can benefit from this foam rolling exercise.

To foam roll your IT band:

  1. Lie on one side with the foam roller positioned underneath your IT band, or the side of your thigh. 
  2. Rest your bodyweight on your forearm. 
  3. Your left leg should be straight, and you should have your knees bent for the other leg with your foot placed comfortably in front of your left leg. 
  4. Brace yourself with your upper body and other leg and slowly roll along the foam roller on your IT band between your left knee and glute, stopping at tender spots. 
  5. Repeat this action for up to 30 seconds, then switch to the other leg.

Exercise #6: Working Your Upper Back 

If you are retaining any type of tension in your upper back, a few sessions on the foam roller can really help loosen things up. Your body should feel a large sense of relief when you are done with this specific exercise.

To foam roll your upper back:

  1. Lie on your back with the foam roller positioned underneath your upper back. 
  2. Your knees should be bent with your feet flat on the floor and your arms can either be down by your sides or crossed in front of your chest. 
  3. Brace your core and lift yourself up into a shallow bridge position. 
  4. Slowly roll up and down between your lower neck and mid-back, stopping at tight areas along the way. 
  5. Repeat this action for up to 30 seconds.

Exercise #7: Working Your Lats 

Lat muscles are located on your back under your armpits, and if these muscles are tight, they can really affect your posture and make you appear much shorter than you really are. Make sure your lats are really relaxed before you work them with the foam roller. 

To foam roll your lats:

  1. Lie on your back at a 45-degree angle with the foam roller positioned underneath one lat. 
  2. Keep your leg straight and bend your other leg into a comfortable position. 
  3. Slowly roll from your armpit down to your mid-back area, focusing on tender areas. 
  4. Repeat this action for up to 30 seconds. 
  5. Switch positions to roll out your other lat. 

Exercise #8: Working Your Shoulders 

Rolling out your deltoids can aid in improving mobility, and because foam rolling can keep your deltoids tense and then relieve that tension, it can be a good way to tone those tight muscles. 

Time under tension has been associated with the development of lean mass. 

To foam roll your shoulders:

  1. Lie on your side with the foam roller underneath your right shoulder. 
  2. Rest your lower body on the ground comfortably with your arm out in front for stability. 
  3. Roll slowly up and down over your deltoid muscle. 
  4. Rotate your trunk slightly to touch part of your upper back between your shoulder blades as well if necessary. 
  5. Repeat this action for up to 30 seconds. 
  6. Switch sides and repeat the movement for your other shoulder. 

Exercise #9: Working Your Neck 

The foam roller can act in the same way as a solid  massage and working the neck is no exception.

To foam roll your neck:

  1. Simply rest your neck on the foam roller at the top where it connects to your head. 
  2. Slowly turn your head to the side and hold it where you feel any kind of tightness. 
  3. Exhale and turn your head to the other side. 
  4. Repeat this action for up to 30 seconds.

Take Caution As You Get Started 

Foam rolling can be painful, especially if you are new to it.

Pain in a specific area while foam rolling can be a sign that your muscle or tissue is very tight, and that it might need some extra attention.

Ease into painful spots by starting in the areas right around it and the sensitivity should decrease quite quickly. But, if the pain persists, it is best not to continue until you are able to get some sound medical advice from a physical therapist.

Getting the Most Out of Foam Rolling

The cells of your muscles can only produce so much force until they are pushed to the limit. Muscles can only move so much weight and do so many repetitions of a movement before they start feeling sore. 

Stretching your muscles is a beneficial way to help combat muscle soreness and accelerate recovery. Pair foam rolling with HyperAde, and you may find yourself not only recovering quicker, but also seeing performance improvements.

Whether you're a bodybuilder, powerlifter, or recreational athlete, you can use foam rolling to help relieve tension and take your workouts to the next level.