Foam Rolling 101

Written by Emily Morris

The foam roller is an exercise device used for self-massage and fitness.  It can help soothe tight, sore areas and speed muscle recovery. This process of rolling out tight muscles and relieving tension is also called myofascial release.

Selecting the correct roller.

The dark color foam rollers are of a higher density (higher density = more pressure). We should never feel pain when using the roller. Moderate discomfort is common while performing the rolling exercises but should not be continued the following day. If the roller is causing pain, our muscles could be too tight or we may need to find a lower density roller. White rollers are the softest, followed by blue or green rollers of medium density and black foam rollers, which are the firmest. Some brands have different colors, though, purely for cosmetic reasons.

Rolling areas of tension.

When using the foam roller, it’s best to work the entire body, focusing on areas of tension.  It is best to ease into it and make sure we can still breathe deeply. We can start by facing the ground and foam roll our legs, move onto one side, working from top to bottom of the body, and then rolling out the backside of the body. Continue to check in with the feedback coming back from the body and make sure the breath is easy and fluid.

Understand the limitations to rolling.

There is always a reason for tight muscles. Usually, we have a movement aberration, a way of moving our body that is dysfunctional. There’s generally a muscle somewhere else that is far weaker than it should be, and thus the muscle we’re diligently foam rolling has shortened up to give us extra support. It’s taking on a workload above and beyond its job description. Foam rolling can help to relieve the tension, but the relief is temporary.

Want to incorporate foam rolling into your health routine? A personal trainer with Front Door Fitness can help you in your fitness journey.