Foam Rolling (Dos & Don'ts)

Who knew foam could hurt so good?

By Dr. Aliya

 Foam rolling | Photo provided by Dr. Aliya

Foam rolling | Photo provided by Dr. Aliya

You’ve just finished your workout and as you make your way over to the stretching area you notice a woman moving her entire body over a cylindrical piece of foam.  She’s writhing over it, using several expletives and you wonder what the heck is she doing? But more importantly, why?!

Welcome to foam rolling my friend.  Foam rolling became trendy years ago when athletes needed to loosen and massage tight muscles and fascia before and after games.  

What is it?

It’s a form of self-myofascial release, basically a fancy term for self-massage. By using the foam roller and your own body weight you are releasing tight muscles via trigger points and increasing circulation and blood flow to that specific area of your body helping to restore normal function. Normal function means your muscles are elastic, healthy and ready to perform.  

 Deep Tissue Massage | Photo by  Elvis Clooth

Deep Tissue Massage | Photo by Elvis Clooth

Why does it hurt AF?

Foam rolling can be the equivalent of a deep tissue massage if done correctly.  Releasing tight muscles and working out those “knots” can sometimes be an uncomfortable and at times painful process. The self-myofascial release provides the user with the ability to control the pressure thereby giving you a role in managing the healing and recovery process.  

How to do it?

To foam roll properly, it is best to apply moderate pressure to specific tight areas or muscles using the roller and your body weight.  Spend about 30-60 seconds on each area using as much or as little pressure as you feel comfortable.  If you find a knot or tender spot, pause for a few seconds rolling back and forth until the tenderness eases.  

Here are a few do’s and don’ts that will have you foam rolling like a pro!

 Different Types of Rollers | Photo by  Pexels

Different Types of Rollers | Photo by Pexels

DO pick a foam roller that’s right for you!  Foam rollers come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, some with knobs for added torture….I mean, relief.   To be honest, I always suggest a longer foam roller so it’s easier to use to roll out your glutes, ITB and back. Of course, if you are traveling you may want to get a shorter one as well for ease of packing! 

DON’T overdo it!  It is not an exercise in pain tolerance. Placing too much sustained pressure on one body part can result in damage. 

DO roll slowly and with even pressure, spending a few seconds on each area of the body 

DON’T roll directly on a joint or bone.  

 Roll carefully | Photo by  Health Gauge  (brighter) 

Roll carefully | Photo by Health Gauge (brighter) 

DO expect a little bit of discomfort. It should be a “good” hurt, but never unbearable. If a sore area is too tender, try rolling on surrounding muscles first to help loosen things up.

DON’T try to foam roll your neck.  It’s awkward for a reason. The neck is a very sensitive area and a difficult area to position your foam roller. If you are suffering from neck pain, seek the help of a health professional (like your chiropractor).

DO it often. Being consistent with rolling is key. It’s not enough to just roll when you are in acute pain. Try rolling for a few moments every day! Trust me, your body will thank you!

Happy Rolling!

To learn more about Dr. Aliya visit her website at

Disclaimer: Good Read Magazine and its contributors are not responsible in any manner for any injuries that may occur through following the instructions contained in this material; this article is solely for information and educational purposes and does not constitute medical advice. Please consult a medical or health professional before beginning any exercise, nutrition, or supplementation program.

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