Foam Rolling 101: The Basics You Need to Know


Looking for a live-in massage therapist for an unbeatable price?! Then a Foam Roll is your answer! It’s a great alternative to keep your muscles from becoming overactive, which can lead to compensatory issues like lower-back pain, knee pain and headaches. They are also great for breaking up the muscle fascia, the fibrous connective tissue separating our muscles that become adhesive after a hard training session. Foam rolling can help speed up your recovery process and have you back and training at your optimal level.

It is important to note before using a foam roller, if you suffer from blood clots then you SHOULD NOT USE THE FOAM ROLL WITHOUT CONSULTING WITH YOUR PHYSICIAN. Now that that’s out of the way, lets talk about how to “roll” properly. First things first, whenever you are using the foam roll, you want to make sure that you are engaging your core throughout its entirety. Do this by pulling in your belly button towards your spine.

As you begin to “roll”, the foam roller should only be traveling one inch per second. This will help you pinpoint the exact areas that need pressure, thus reducing the excitation, allowing the lengthening of that muscle to occur. Remember, you are trying to relax the muscles.

Let’s use a scale from 1-10, 1 being very little pain and 10 being excruciating pain. As you are slowly rolling, you want to find that 7 threshold, and hold it there. It is common in thinking you must roll back and forth on the troubled area, but that just enables the muscle to relax. Again, too much pain will excite the nerves innervating the muscles, which will hinder you from receiving the benefits of the foam roll. Once that 7 has dropped to a 3, then continue rolling until you find that next “7 spot” and hold again. Depending on the muscle, it may take between 15-60s for you to feel the pain subside.  Continue this trend until you have covered all the necessary areas that need attention. You may even discover areas of your body that you didn’t even know needed some foam rolling love!

Foam rolling can be performed every day and is best used prior to your training session in order to inhibit and lengthen the overactive muscle, and maximize its proper functionality throughout its range of motion. You can get one for as little $30 online or at your local sporting goods store.

Foam rolling is not a replacement for a massage therapist but it’s a great tool for keeping you properly functional until your next visit.  Now that you have the fundamental knowledge on how to foam roll, the next step is the action that follows. Foam roll away!!!

Omari Bernard, Fabletics Master
Exercise Physiologist
CSCS Certified