You’re Probably Foam Rolling Wrong.

By December 21, 2016Move


As a powerlifter, I am super into foam rolling. As a personal trainer, I am super into making sure that people are foam rolling correctly. What I most often see is people rolling back and forth on the foam roller. This may feel great and feel like it’s working but I can promise you: this is not giving you the full effect that you may expect from foam rolling.

I first learned this when I got my personal training certification. In fact, it was one of the first things that I learned. Just a few months later, this was backed by my college kinesiology course… and then my neuroanatomy course. By the time I got to neuroanatomy, my understanding of this concept was in-depth and it got so real for me.

I’m not going get into the nitty gritty science aspect of all of this, because that can get super confusing. It took awhile for me to understand it all and I don’t want to make this too complicated.

So here’s the bottom line. While most people believe that they should roll back and forth over the foam roller, I want to give you the steps to really get the full effect of a foam roller. I will use the hamstring as an example.

Here’s how you foam roll:

  1. Unfortunately, we need to begin by preparing for a little bit of pain, as we will be spending some time on one particular spot of our muscle.
  2. Start with the foam roller under you, just above the knee. If this is a new process for you, begin with a foam roller that has more give.
  3. Slowly move your body using your arms and allow the foam roller to move up your leg. Remember to move SLOWLY!
  4. As you move up your leg, you will get to a point where the pain gets a whole lot more intense. Although your whole hamstring may feel tight, there is typically one or more spots that have a more intense knot that is causing the tightness.
  5. When you find that spot, HOLD IT THERE! Stay there for at least 45 seconds, or until you feel the muscle relax. I know it may hurt, but try not to tense the leg up.
  6. Once you feel the muscle relax, make sure that there aren’t any other parts of your hamstring that feel really tight. If there are, repeat the process until you feel the muscle relax.

foam roll

Although this may feel more painful than just rolling up and down the tight muscle, I promise you it is worth it! You will feel like a whole new person after using this technique.

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Author Erin Haft

Erin is a Fit University ambassador, NASM certified personal trainer, and a junior occupational therapy student at Quinnipiac. Since beginning her fitness journey in her senior year of high school, she has had the goal of spreading the word about the importance of health and fitness to as many people as possible. Follow her on Instagram @haft2train.

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