How to use a Foam Roller

This video on the basics of foam rolling was recorded during a seminar for CrossFitters. The seminar focused on how to use the foam roller in order to help prevent shoulder, upper back, and neck pain.

The foam roller is a wonderful tool which allows you as an independent user to manipulate the body’s soft tissues which has a potential positive effect on the fascial system, the musculotendinous system, and the circulatory system. (Individuals taking blood thinning medications or with blood clotting disorders should consult his/her physician prior to using a foam roller for mobilization.)

Possible reasons to utilize the foam roller include:

  • A method to perform self myofascial release.
  • It can be used as a mobilization tool for soft tissues even near or around boney articulations.
  • It is an excellent tool for home exercise programs.
  • It can be easily adapted for use on multiple areas of the body.
  • An effective tool which one can easily travel with.

How should I use the foam roller?

  • I typically recommend one to three minutes of body weight rolling (if it is tolerated) per extremity, and the same for the thoracic, low back, and buttock area.
  • A good rule of thumb is to roll out an area that is tender and sore (or recently worked) until it no longer feels tight and sore.
  • Again, approximately one to three minutes per area although this may vary based on your size. Increased time will be needed the more developed your muscles are.
  • Use the foam roll on tight or restricted areas prior to performance without risk of deleterious effects (unlike static stretching).
  • Use the foam roll after exercise or competition to speed up recovery times and decrease the risk of muscle soreness or restriction.
  • The foam roller can also be used as an aid to increase the intensity of a stretch during static stretching activities.

Foam rollers come in many different lengths and sizes. Each size has a slightly different purpose and use.  For most individuals, the three foot long by six inch diameter size will be the most versatile.  You can purchase a quality foam roller for a good price online on Amazon.

For photos and detailed descriptions of the exercises which I demonstrated in the video, opt-in to my e-mail list for instant access to My Top 8 Stretches to Eliminate Neck, Upper Back, and Shoulder Pain.

For more information on the use of a foam roller, please refer to Does Foam Rolling Help or Hurt Performance?

What has your experience been like with using the foam roller? Is it worth the effort?  Please share your comments or questions below.

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