How to Use a Foam Roller


This post is part 3 in a 4-part series about Muscle Maintenance. Follow these links for the complete series.

Part 1: Muscle Maintenance: An Often Overlooked Key to Performance

Part 2: How to Choose a Foam Roller

Part 4: A Brief Intro to Trigger Point Release

Barrel Roller Social No Copy

A key component to the EXOS training system is foam rolling. Like a professional massage, foam rolling uses deep compression to roll out muscle spasms that develop during a workout. The compression overstimulates the nerves, signaling the muscle spasm to shut off. This allows the muscles to relax and loosen, gets the blood and lymphatic system flowing, and helps restore muscles.

Use before a workout: Spend time before practice or a training session rolling on spots in major muscle groups that have knots. After rolling make sure you are warming up properly as recommended in Revamping your Warm Up.

Use after a workout: The time spent on muscle maintenance while away from your training setting or field of play is a key part of the recovery process. Along with getting adequate sleep and proper nutrition, taking care of your body’s soft tissue is essential. Foam rolling will minimize next-day soreness as well as DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), the second-day soreness athletes know all too well.

Duration: The majority of your time foam rolling for muscle maintenance should be spent on the areas of the muscles where you can feel tension or a “knot.” For example, you should spend 60 seconds rolling on your IT band. The majority of the time should be spent on the spot in your IT band that might feel most sore. Slowly glide over that spot, moving back and forth 2-3 inches at a time.

As you roll on the foam, discovering muscle spasms and pressure points, you’ll knead out the knots by working back and forth for thirty to sixty seconds and then holding on that pressure point for an additional thirty seconds until the muscle releases from spasm.

You’ll probably enjoy the foam roll routine – everyone likes massages. Still, there will be some uncomfortable moments, as there are with a professional massage. Once you’re past the first few weeks, though, it will become considerably easier and more comfortable. The foam roll is a great barometer of the quality of your muscle and fascia. The better it feels and the less it hurts, the better the quality of your muscle and fascia.

Now that you know how to foam roll, learn how to choose the right foam roller for you.