All You Should Know About Foam Rolling 

 February 28, 2021

By  Pham

Foam rollers serve as a low-cost but extremely versatile equipment to help working out muscle knots or to develop a fantastic set of abs. In simple words, if you are not using a foam roller, you may be missing out a handful of benefits that come with the use of this incredible accessory.

For those of you who don’t know, self-myofascial release refers to a self-massaging technique for muscle tightness. A foam roller is suitable for performing this method. Although users can perform the technique with other items such as a theracane, a lacrosse ball or even with their hands, nothing works as efficiently as a foam roller.

When you apply pressure to a specific point on the body, you can successfully aid in recovering your muscles and assist them to resume their normal function. When we say normal, we mean that muscles remain elastic, fit and ready to perform without any complications.

When you self-massage your tight muscles with the help of a foam roller, sore areas which people also refer to as trigger points are greatly alleviated. The entire process of relieving tension and rolling out tight muscles is myofascial release.

Fitness experts, trainers, and healthcare professionals emphasize on using foam rollers as a natural way to relieve many of today's muscular complications. Running causes the muscles to undergo a continuous process that involves breakdown and repair.

Over time, it causes the muscles to become tight as the fascia which is the connective tissue that surrounds the muscles thickens and shortens. This process happens to shorten and thicken the underlying muscles from further damage.

Frequently, the fascia and fibers contract so much that they lead to trigger points or sore spots that need to be released. Fascia also can respond to stress by itself. However, the good news is that trigger points, and fascia can be released. As soon as they are released, the pain and discomfort go away.

One of the many methods to stretch and loosen the fascia is the myofascial therapy. It reduces pain and increases circulation to improve mobility. Hence, you can accomplish greater performance and balance with this therapy.

Thanks to the many benefits foam rollers offer, we recommend them to athletes for massaging sore muscles. With the help of deep tissue massage, you can easily work out the knots in your muscles although the process is a little uncomfortable or painful at times.

The self-myofascial release makes sure you are capable controlling the healing and recovery process by applying appropriate pressure in the desired locations. Since you are aware of the areas that require your most attention; you can identify the spots that need pressure to heal.  

However, it is important that you consult with a physical therapist or your physician before initiating a rolling foam workout. Once he approves the use of this device in your particular case, you can start reaping the numerous benefits of foam rollers.

Releasing trigger points aids in establishing pain-free movements as you are free to perform a wide range of movement patterns. Sometimes, stretching alone is not adequate for relieving tight muscles. Exercise enthusiasts and athletes prefer using foam rollers to resume the normal blood flow throughout the body.  

It is true that professional trainers, athletes, and fitness freaks have long trusted in the superpowers of foam rollers. But experts and scientists continue to make impressive discoveries regarding the benefits of using foam rollers.

History Of Foam Rolling

Feldenkrais method practitioners initially utilized these handy tools during the 1980s. Invented by Moshé Feldenkrais towards the end of the twentieth century, the Feldenkrais method is rooted in finding ways to reduce mobility and pain issues.

The method encourages a patient to become more aware of the signs and symptoms that his body signals out to devise a customized healing and recovery plan.

However, this originated as early as the 1920s when Moshe Feldenkrais showed great interest in exploring ways to reduce his knee pain and improve his athletic performance. Being a martial artist and a physicist, he paid close attention to how his body moved and performed.

A few skeptics have doubted the benefits of this method, but there are thousands of success stories that highlight the significance of foam rolling and how it cures muscles ailments. 

Child Foam Roller Therapy

Feldenkrais practitioners employed foam rollers as body supports to perform standing balance work with their patients. However, in 1987, Sean Gallagher who was a Feldenkrais student, as well as a physical therapist, initiated using foam rollers to function as a self-massage device.

Soon, Gallagher contacted Jerome Robbins, who was a famous Broadway celebrity and emphasized on the incredible benefits of foam rolling for painful muscles

Robbins, who was managing a troupe of dancers at the time, encouraged his cast to test foam rollers for any positive results. He received a tremendous feedback from his dancers who gave an overwhelming response to the use of foam rollers.

This process led to the introduction of foam rollers for Broadway dancers. The historical account of foam rollers reveals that they are not a relatively new device. They have been long in use as an important physical therapy tool to balance and alleviate tired muscles.

Athletes and physical trainers have experimented with foam rollers to benefit from miraculous benefits of the foam rollers. One of the most common materials used for manufacturing foam rollers is molded foam and polystyrene which is more durable as it is dense.  However, polystyrene can be a little hard on stiff or severally damaged areas.

Types Of Foam Rollers

Since foam rollers have now become a popular exercise device which you use in hundreds of workout programs, they come in varying textures. These items are available in all shapes, sizes, and specifications. All items are cylindrical and long.

It is a common misconception that foam rollers are extremely uncomfortable to use. Sadly, many consumers end up choosing the wrong kind of foam roller. Although you are like to feel a little discomfort when exercising with a foam roller, it is important to know how and why you are using a foam roller to purchase the most appropriate kind for your customized workouts.

Low-Density Foam Rollers

If you are looking for a light foam roller to experience more softness, then choosing a low-density foam roller is the best decision to make. It is helpful to use a low-density device when you have had a rigorous workout earlier in the week or in case your muscles are very stiff and store.

All foam rollers are engineered to work out the knots in our muscles. These are also called myofascial adhesions or trigger points. If you are new to the world of foam rollers, choose a softer density roller, and you can upgrade to a firmer model over time. 

Firm Foam Rollers

Black Foam Roller

One of the densest models of foam rollers, these items can be the hardest to sit on. This feature is recommended to users if they are looking for a concentrated or a more intense myofascial release.

Athletes utilize firm foam rollers to train and benefit from a rigorous working out session. These are not for everyone, and you should avoid opting for a firm model if you are an amateur.

Short Foam Rollers

The short foam rollers are available in both soft and firm densities. These items are roughly half the length of the average form roller because when you are focusing on a particular area, using a regular size foam roller can do more harm than good if you are not a pro at using it.

Since short rollers are more convenient to maneuver, you can move them easily without hurting your muscles. They are also handy traveling accessories thanks to their compact size.

Bumpy Foam Rollers

These rollers have some texture embedded in their foam. This texture may be anything like wave-like ridges or bumpy knobs that are produced to dig in deeply to relieve the trigger points in the muscles.

Medium-Density Foam Rollers

If you are confused and don’t know which foam roller to use for your workout, it is also helpful to choose a medium density foam roller. This way you will whether you need to choose a soft or firm one according to your stretching or workout exercises.

How To Use Foam Rollers

Using Foam Roller For Lower Back Pain

Foam rollers are now popularly used in a wide range of exercise programs. A few common ways to incorporate foam rollers into you a gym workout is through yoga routines and pilates. The foam roller is used to create an instability that challenges the core to promote balance and strength. Moreover, they are also an important component in bending and stretching workouts.

Foam rollers are used to relieve many areas of the body, but these are the most common ones:

  • Plantar fascia (sole of foot)
  • Erector Spinae (back muscles)
  • Quadriceps (front of thigh)
  • ITB (outside thigh)
  • Peroneals (outer lower leg)
  • Hamstrings
  • Achilles/Calves
  • Abductors (inside thigh)
  • Gluteals
  • Shins

It is interesting to know that foam rolling works much like brushing your teeth. You should not overdo it, or you will end up harming your muscles instead of maintaining them.

There are many instances where excessive foam rolling has resulted in stressing the tissues, particularly if you do it aggressively. Although any time is a good time to roll, it produces the best results when you do it before your regular workout.

A foam roll routine takes 10 minutes to complete. Experts recommend spending around a minute of rolling each of your major muscles to identify painful adhesions or areas.

Once you identify a significantly painful area, you should stay on it for around 15 seconds. A 10-15 second period efficiently releases tension in your muscles that may have caused discomfort and pain.

Users commonly utilize foam rollers to relieve their hamstrings, calves, glutes, chest, lats, IT band, upper band, and shoulders. But foam rollers are helpful in relieving pain in any muscle groups as long as you don't roll over a bone or a joint. Doing so may result in a tissue damage or excruciating pain.

For instance, when you are working out on your quads, roll just above your knee and just below your hip. If you commit the mistake of rolling back and forth quickly, you are doing little not alleviate the tension in your muscles. The proper technique of utilizing foam rollers involves moving up and down the length of the muscles slowly.

This feature helps to focus on the thickest part of the muscle and to identify painful and troubled areas to cure them. Moreover, it is important that you roll an inch backward forever 2 inches that you roll.

Make sure you inhale and exhale for at least 3-5 seconds during the workout. Although foam rolling is uncomfortable at first, it becomes fairly easy with frequency and time. Many exercises incorporate the use of foam rollers. These tools are used to relieve several parts of the body including:


Keep the roller under the thighs and bend the elbows. Your forearms should be flat to support the body weight. Suspend your feet above the ground. Keep the abs drawn in and tighten the core muscles. Using your arms, gently roll the body forward and then back to shift the roller up and down from the pelvic joint to above the knees.


Keep the roller beneath your calves and rest the hands on the ground behind you to lift your butt off the surface. The entire weight of your body should be in the hands and the foam roller. Gently roll forward and back and shift the roller up and down from below your knees to above the ankles.

Calves Therapy With Foam Roller


Keep both legs straight as you sit on the floor. Now, extend the arms to raise the glutes and keep the broad side of a roller beneath your butt. By bending one leg, move the body, so one check has to bear the impact of your body weight. Shift the glute backward and forward across the roller and shift the burden to the other side to repeat. 

How To Make The Most Out Of Your Foam Rolling Workouts?

It is common for most people to simply roll up and down on a knot which does not accomplish too many benefits. Fascia is a densely woven covering of connective tissues with a continuous network that functions to keep our body together.

It is important that you pause to roll up and down or side to side whenever you feel any restrictions. This feature greatly aids to release tissue restriction and alleviate the muscles. The technique also restores the blood flow and re-aligns the muscles and tissues that you are working.

Taking Care Of Foam Rollers

There are a few important things to consider when using foam rollers. It is common to come across a few imperfections such as dimensional differences tolerances and surface bubbles. However, these factors have no major effect on the performance of the products.

Normal use may trigger pressure points or indentions. Make sure you don't store any objects on top of the foam items. Store them flat and in a place where they are not under direct sunlight. A temperature of 75 to 125 degrees Fahrenheit is appropriate for maintaining a foam roller.

Do not soak or submerge a foam roller. Use a mixture of mild soap and water for cleaning the foam roller. Avoid using bleach solutions or harsh chemicals, and they can distort and discolor a foam roller.

Benefits Of Foam Rolling

Man Stretching On Foam Roller

Foam rolling brings a multitude of benefits to users. They improve better circulation and allow them to benefit from a greater range of motion. There are different types of foam rollers available in the market, but each one offers a different kind of intensity and firmness to serve consumers.

Although results may vary, foam rollers are fantastic ways to devise a customized workout plan in which you can set your own pace and intensity.

In addition to using the foam roller as a therapeutic device, people also use it for several different exercises. Being particularly helpful in stabilizing movements and postures, it is also an incredible tool for strengthening the core. As we age, we experience more physical health challenges including stiffness around the joints and pain around weight-bearing joints.

It is important to seek a cure for treating these issues. Over-the-counter medications and physical therapy are one of the best ways to relieve muscle tension and stiffness.

Foam rollers also serve as an alternative to other popular methods such as electrical stimulation and acupuncture. It continues to serve as an effective way to work out sore muscles and improve circulation for relieving troubled areas.

Since exercise is one of the best natural ways to maintain and reclaim health, foam rollers are engineered to help fitness enthusiasts accomplish their goals naturally. There are many techniques which are designed to facilitate an improved blood flow throughout the body. However, few of these work as successfully as foam rolling.

This process works well for preparing your body for an intense workout and also promotes an enhanced healing process. One of the best things about this process is that you can set your pressure and customize your workout to get optimal results.

Moreover, the pressure you feel during a rolling foam workout also depends on the type of foam you are using. It is important that you choose the best foam roller and do not invest in cheap products that can cause you an injury.

Foam rollers comprise of soft material such as EVA and polyethylene. However, there are also polystyrene variants used in its manufacturing to serve all kinds of needs. All these types are available in different densities which affect the durability and firmness of the foam roller.


If you want to use foam rollers regularly, it is important that you choose the one that fits the bill for heavy use. Common models which are less dense varieties of polystyrene and polyethylene wear out in no time.

The colored and black models are denser and more durable. If you are a beginner, you should start out your rolling foam workouts with a less dense model. Softer foams result in moderate or less pain.

It helps to check reviews and ratings of a product before investing your hard earned money into it. Since most models do not deliver the firmness you are looking for, make sure you choose the right one that suits your needs. You can also inquire your physical therapy provider or your trainer to suggest the right kind of foam roller to suit your needs.

Trying out a foam roller helps you to avoid buying the wrong model. Make sure you test its firmness and density in a sports club or a gym before ordering it online or purchasing it from a fitness store.

Beginners may find the foam rolling experience painful and challenging. However, as the muscles in your body begin to reclaim their elasticity and strength, you can upgrade to a firmer foam roller.

It is ok to feel a painful pressure on your muscle- knots which also depends on the firmness of your roller. However, the more you foam roll, the less painful it becomes over the months or years.

Doing a workout with a foam roller is an affordable way to benefit from a deep tissue massage. Most foam rolling devices are available at fairly low price tags. When you slowly roller over several different areas of the body, you break up adhesions to speed up your healing process.

Never purchase a foam roller if it comes from an unknown manufacturer. Moreover, it also helps to check its specs to and compare its firmness with other models to know whether it will suit your needs. You can also check out our buyer's guide to assist you with your purchase.

Michael Rodriguez

I'm a registered massage therapist out of Vancouver BC. I absolutely hate the information I find on Google about this industry and I started this blog to debunk these myths.

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