Foam Rolling 101

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Many people are using foam rolling (or Self-Myofascial Release / SMR for you technical out there) but not everyone does it, and not all that do know how to do it properly. If properly done, foam rolling can be a very effective and important part to your workout.

Regardless of your fitness level, foam rolling has several key benefits and should be incorporated before and after every workout session. For foam rolling to do its purpose, generally only a few minutes are needed for each session.

What NOT to do:

Many people I see in the gym that do foam rolling incorrectly do one of 2 things. First, they roll too fast. By this, they roll whatever body part (quadriceps, lower back, calves…) back-and-forth over the roller without spending any length of time in any one spot. This negates any of the beneficial effects of foam rolling as I’ll discuss in a moment.

Secondly, I see people rolling areas that shouldn’t be rolled. Foam rolling should only be done on muscle and strong, supported areas of the body. I see people rolling on areas like the back of the knee, into the armpit, and even their abdominals. All these areas are soft tissue areas and placing pressure on them can result in injury. Also rolling anything below the rib cage on the torso can place major stress on the internal organs not protected by the rib cage. This is a big no-no.

What TO DO:

Foam rolling should be a slow, seek-and-destroy process to find knots within the muscles and remove them. Start at one end of the muscle in question and slowly (about 1 inch per second) roll along the muscle until a tender or sore spot is encountered. I know it’s normal to want to move away from this area, but don’t. Instead, hold in place with pressure for 30-40 seconds. This will help signal to the body that an area has been found that needs attention. After 30 seconds, you may begin rolling again at a slow pace until any other sore spots are found and the process repeated.

Proper foam rolling gives immediate benefits in flexibility and helps keep the muscles from becoming too tight and eventually causing injury. I foam roll the main muscles to be used during a workout before and after every session. I also incorporate foam rolling into all my programs as it helps achieve better results and again, will make it easier for you to do your workouts.

Feel free to email me at or call me at 913-710-9401 with any questions, or to discuss how I can help increase your mobility. Thanks for reading.

Together, WEvolve.