How To Use A Foam Roller: 6 Exercises For Recovery And Conditioning

how to use a foam roller

How to use a foam roller and what are some simple exercises you can start with? Foam rollers have been around the block for a while now but many are still unsure of how to correctly use them. Don’t sweat it (literally), follow this step-by-step guide on foam rolling exercises and the best foam rollers to get for any fitness level. 

What does a foam roller help with?

It’s common to experience soreness after a workout. While a sports massage can help ease tight muscles, not all of us can afford to go for one. This is where you should make time for foam rolling — a type of self-myofascial release (SMR). Foam roller exercises help relieve muscle tightness, soreness and give you a better range of motion. The deep SMR compression increases blood circulation to your tired muscles, aiding in the restoration of healthy muscle tissues.

Foam roller exercises for recovery and conditioning

1. Quads 

How to use a foam roller for your quads:

  1. Start in a push up position with the roller under your quads
  2. Slowly roll forward until the roller reaches just above your knees
  3. Roll backwards until it reaches just above your hips
  4. Continue with this motion for 30 seconds. Pause and focus on trigger points for longer if necessary

2. Calves

How to use a foam roller for your calves:

  1. Sit on a yoga mat with your legs extended
  2. Place the foam roller under your right calf
  3. With your hands placed behind you, lift your butt off the mat
  4. Slowly roll your calves back and forth on the foam roller
  5. Do this for 1 minute before switching to the other side

3. Glutes 

How to use a foam roller for your glutes:

  1. Sit on the foam roller and cross your right ankle over your left knee
  2. Lean your weight towards your right hip and keep your hands behind you for support
  3. Slowly roll one butt cheek over the roller
  4. Do this for 30 seconds before switching sides

4. Hamstrings 

How to use a foam roller for your hamstrings:

  1. Sit on the floor with your right leg extended and your left knee bent
  2. Position the foam roller under your right hamstring
  3. Lift your body, with your hands placed behind you. Your weight should be is resting on the foam roller
  4. Slowly roll up and down between the back of your knees and your glutes
  5. Do so for 30 seconds before switching sides

5. IT Band 

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Do you foam roll? – If not, consider picking up a foam roller next time you’re at the gym or get one for your home. It has incredible benefits – a few of which we’ll go over here 👇 – Foam rolling is great for myofascial release. And if you’re like, what the hell does that mean? Then read on 💁‍♀️ – Myofascial release is the application of low-intensity forces to soft tissue over a long period of time. Essentially the purpose is to allow for contracted muscles to relax which improves blood flow and nutrient flow to the area. – Here are some great benefits: – By foam rolling regularly, you can anticipate increased blood flow. This is important because blood carries nutrient like glycogen and oxygen to your muscles. – Regular foam rolling will also improve your overall movement patterns. Well hydrated muscles (see improved blood flow above) means that muscles move past each other with greater ease, allowing you better movement during your workouts and in life in general. – Rolling will also help with greater range of motion which essentially means greater flexibility. This is also essential for strength training. – Foam rolling is also going to decrease your risk of injury. Better circulation means greater range of motion, which means less risk of hurting yourself when you’re working out or picking up something heavy at home, etc. – And finally, rolling aids in faster recovery times. After a workout, muscles are sore because of a build up of things like lactic acid. Foam rolling after a workout will assist in getting fresh blood and nutrients to the fatigued muscle groups, which will help with recovery. – Plan to foam roll at least a couple of times a week. Preferably after a workout, but they’re great to work on flexibility at other times. I always encourage my clients to use theirs for a few minutes while they’re watching tv, etc. The benefits are amazing! – Now let’s get to rolling 👊

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How to use a foam roller for your IT band:

  1. Lie on your left side with the foam roller positioned underneath your left IT band (the side of your thigh)
  2. Rest your body weight on your left forearm
  3. Remember to keep your left leg straight
  4. Support yourself with your upper body and right leg, and begin to slowly roll the foam roller between your knee and glutes
  5. Repeat for 30 seconds, then switch to your right IT band

6. Lats 

How to use a foam roller for your lats:

  1. Lie on your back at a 45-degree angle and position the foam roller under your right lat
  2. Slowly roll from your right armpit down your mid-back area and focus on tighter areas
  3. Do so for 30 seconds before switching to your left lat

Types of foam rollers

Now that you know how to use a foam roller and some basic foam roller exercises, here’s a guide on kinds of foam rollers to get depending on your experience with them. 

1. Soft foam rollers 

how to use a soft foam roller
(Credit: happyeasybuy)

If you have never used a foam roller before, you should start with a soft one. The gentle foam surface will help your muscles adapt to the tensions, preventing muscle trauma. Ease into recovery on one of these after your next yoga class. We recommend this soft foam roller with massage floating points (available on happyeasybuy). It’ll work wonders on alleviating tight muscles and knots with minimal pain.

2. Firm foam rollers

how to use a firm foam roller

Firm foam rollers are for those who have a little more experience in foam rolling. It will help to relieve trigger points and tight muscles more effectively, thus resulting in a more intense and concentrated myofascial release. If your muscles are still aching two or three days after your last workout, you need this black firm foam roller (available on ASAP.

3.  Short foam rollers 

how to use a short foam roller

Short foam rollers help to target smaller areas of the body. This Reebok short foam roller (available on AIBI SINGAPORE) lets you isolate sore muscle groups and targets your adhesions and tightness with ease. Its compact size is also ideal for jet setters and is perfect for on-the-go relief!

4. Deep tissue foam rollers

how to use a deep tissue foam roller
(Credit: ACESCENE)

If you are up for it, try this Vibrating Deep Tissue foam roller (available on ACESCENE) for a warm-up or post-workout recovery session! Similar to massage guns, this rechargeable vibrating foam roller combines targeted vibration therapy with myofascial release to penetrate into the muscles and alleviate stiffness more effectively. Set it at a low speed if you want to relax your muscles and crank it up to a higher speed for when you want to break down muscle adhesions.

Looking to start a new fitness routine? Here are some easy workout routines you can do at home! Just don’t forget to use your foam rollers to soothe your aching muscles after the workout. For ladies who aspire to be as fit as Kayla Itsines, consider these arm workouts for women to do from the comfort of your own home!