Foam Rolling

You probably have seen a foam roller lurking in your neighborhood gym and thought to yourself, “What in the world is that hard foam thingamajig doing in the corner of my gym, how do you use it, what is it for, and is it for me?

What is foam rolling?

Foam rolling in short, is the poor mans masseuse.  Physical Therapists, athletic trainers, and fitness professionals have shifted their focus to injury prevention. Soft tissue work (massage) is one of the best ways to keep your body injury-free when working out. The foam roller is an inexpensive and convenient way to do soft tissue work to yourself.  Another term for foam rolling is self myofascial release (SMR), a term coined by the National Academy of Sports Medicine.

What is the purpose of foam rolling?

Foam Rolling or SMR is used for several purposes:
      •Alleviates painful joints
      •Assist in keeping our muscles healthier or to get healthier faster
      •Aids in muscle recovery
      •Increases flexibility
      •Helps to improving our overall posture
      •A great way to warm-up prior to working out

Who should foam roll?

Do your knees get sore when you run? Do sore joints and muscles hold you back from performing to your potential? Do you have chronic low back pain? Want to improve your posture? Then foam rolling is for you!

How and what should I roll?

Physical Therapist and coaches are not in have differing views on when to roll, how often to roll, or how long to roll so these are general guidelines.

You can roll as a before your workout and you can roll after a workout. I have my personal training clients and athletes roll for about 5-10 minutes prior to their warm up. When working with clients who need to rehab for a painful joint, etc. I use form rolling throughout the rehab session.

Rolling can be done every day and can be done frequently throughout the day. According to The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook by Clair and Amber Davies, trigger point work can be done up to 12 times per day in situations with acute pain.
Typically, you would roll until you found a sore spot in the muscle and hold for 30 seconds on each sore spot/trigger point.

 *PLF Tip of the Day*
Below are examples of a few of the basic foam rolling exercises. Try each one and post how your foam rolling experience was. How-to pictures on the second page of today's post.

 Foam Roller

Calves (Gastrocnemius)

ITB-(Iliotibial Band)

 Adductors-(Inner Thighs)

Latisimmus Dorsi-(Upper Back Lateral)

Rhomboids-(Upper Back Middle)

Disclaimer: The information contained herein is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment in any manner. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding any medical condition. If at any time any of these exercises cause any discomfort or pain cease immediately and seek a professional's advice.


  1. What a great post! I could have definitely used this the other day! I pinched my siatic nerve in my low back ... using this stretching/massaging tool before could have helped prevent it. Now I am working on using a stability ball to strengthen my muscles. Must look for this roller at the gym to use in the future!

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