How to Use Rolling Foam (Tips and Tricks)

So you just got back from a strenuous workout and the foam roller is staring you down and screams for you to use it. The next time you and the foam roller go on a date.

Here are some Tips and Tricks:

  • Start with a soft foam roller then progress to hollow foam roller with plastic on the inside or the roller with bumps. This is more of a preference,
  • For those tighter or smaller areas like in between ribs that a foam roller cannot cover try a tennis or cricket ball
  • For your T-spine…if you’re feeling “locked up”, don’t just roll along your back while it may feel good on your muscles try arching your back around the roller to get some movement in your spine. Try adding some arm movements. (As seen above)
  • Don’t spend 30 minutes foam rolling, while there may be differing research on amount of time spent on a foam roller. Hendricks et al. (2020) found that optimal time is 90-120 seconds for reducing muscle stiffness and improving range of motion.
  • Don’t roll on bony areas as it may be more sensitive, much more comfortable rolling on the muscle
  • Feel free to use before and after workout in conjunction with active warm-up and cooldown
  • Don’t forget to breathe! Some movements might make us hold our breath because there might be some sensitivity or that “hurt so good” pain. Just Breathe!… Nice deep breaths!

Foam rolling is not a device to improve performance but can help will with that post workout soreness also known as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) and can aid in enhanced clearance of lactate (Adamcyzk et al., 2020; Skinner et al., 2020). Foam rolling can increase Pressure Pain threshold (Hendrick et al., 2020) which measures deep muscle sensitivity which is great for recovery. Also, in Adamcyzk et al (2020) article suggest a smooth roller versus a bumpy roller made no difference in recovery of DOMS.

Foam rolling is a tool for exercise-induced recovery. If other injuries continue to persist or you just need to learn how to properly foam roll don’t hesitate to see our knowledgeable Physiotherapists and Exercise Physiologists at StudioXphys!

Thanks to Dr. Kelly Starrett of @thereadystate (March 14th,2022 post on Instagram) for inspiration

Adamczyk, J. G., Gryko, K., & Boguszewski, D. (2020). Does the type of foam roller influence the recovery rate, thermal response and DOMS prevention?. PloS one15(6), e0235195.

Hendricks, S., den Hollander, S., Lombard, W., & Parker, R. (2020). Effects of foam rolling on performance and recovery: A systematic review of the literature to guide practitioners on the use of foam rolling. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies24(2), 151-174.

Skinner, B., Moss, R., & Hammond, L. (2020). A systematic review and meta-analysis of the effects of foam rolling on range of motion, recovery and markers of athletic performance. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies24(3), 105-122.

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