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Foam Rolling 101

What is foam rolling?

Foam rolling has become increasingly popular among athletes and those opting for a healthier more active lifestyle due to the many soft tissue benefits. Foam rolling is an exercise technique that massages soft tissue using a dense round piece of foam. Are you heading to the gym or just finished a workout? Try rolling prior to starting your workout to loosen up tight sore muscles and joints or following your workout to reduce muscle tightening and aid in muscle recovery.

Foam rolling is a type of self-myofascial release that can be beneficial in reducing tension and restriction found in the fascia. What exactly is fascia? Fascia is a connective tissue that covers and holds every organ, blood vessel, bone, nerve fiber, and muscle in place. When fascia becomes stressed or overworked, it can tighten up resulting in pain and discomfort. Fascia can become tight around muscles resulting in reduced mobility and painful knots called adhesions. Tightening of the fascia can be caused by a sedentary lifestyle or too little movement each day, repetitive movements resulting in overworking a certain area of the body, or trauma. (1)

How to foam roll

The key to foam rolling is to roll slowly over the targeted soft tissue. Roll until you feel a tender area. Keep your focus on this tender area, rolling back and forth slowly, until you feel the tension release.

What are the benefits?

Increase range of motion: Foam rolling has been shown to improve range of motion. An improvement in flexibility, and overall range of motion, can be obtained by reducing muscle tightness and tension. (3)

Improve blood flow: Tightening of the muscles can result in reduced blood flow. Foam rolling allows you to reduce these areas of restriction, relaxing the muscles, and improving circulation.

Reduce muscle tension: Foam rolling following exercising has been shown to significantly reduce muscle fatigue and soreness. (2)

Foam rolling is beneficial for anyone suffering from pain, stiffness, and muscles soreness. As you can see, foam rolling is a simple way to add self-myofascial massage to your daily routine. Foam rollers can be found at many local stores including Target, Academy, and Dick’s Sporting Goods. You can also find an array of foam rollers from Amazon and other online retailers. Try foam rolling a couple minutes per day, especially before and following exercise, to improve your flexibility, range of motion, improve circulation, and reduce muscle soreness.

Want to know more about foam rolling? Check out Dr. Ben's webinar, Foam Rolling 101, on our YouTube channel!


2.) Healey, Kellie C.1; Hatfield, Disa L.1; Blanpied, Peter2; Dorfman, Leah R.1; Riebe, Deborah1 The Effects of Myofascial Release With Foam Rolling on Performance, Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: January 2014 - Volume 28 - Issue 1 - p 61-68

doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3182956569

3.) Sullivan KM, Silvey DB, Button DC, Behm DG. Roller-massager application to the hamstrings increases sit-and-reach range of motion within five to ten seconds without performance impairments. Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2013;8(3):228-236.

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