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How to Use a Foam Roller

After the overindulgence of the holidays, it seems that everyone is determined to get back in shape in the new year. And while we definitely support the adoption of a healthy lifestyle, this enthusiasm can often translate into muscle fatigue and soreness which can make sticking to those resolutions difficult. To help you keep your resolutions, with a little less pain, we recommend using a foam roller. Adding a foam roller to your home fitness routine is a great idea: they’re inexpensive, easy to use, and can provide relief for sore muscles.

Foam rolling is effective for a few reasons. The primary reason is because it stretches your muscles and connective tissue, but it also helps to reduce excessive tension on joints, ligaments and tendons. When excessive tension is released, it can help to restore normal movement patterns of the joints involved – which ultimately helps to reduce the person’s pain.

Ready to give it a shot?

You can foam roll just about any area on your body: IT bands (side of legs), hip flexors (hips), quads (front of legs), hamstrings (back of legs), adductors (low and high; inside of legs), glutes, upper back and lats. To prevent injury you’ll want to avoid foam rolling your neck and over bony areas.

You’ll want to spend about a minute on each part of your body – usually rolling about 5-10 times per area is sufficient. When you find a tender spot, you’ll want to pause and rest on that spot for about 20-40 seconds as it helps to release that pressure. Make sure you try to stay relaxed as you work each part.

While it is entirely likely that your first couple of foam rolling experiences won’t be highly enjoyable as you work through tense muscles and sore spots, the more frequently you do it the happier and more pain-free your muscles will be.

As with anything, it is important to take care that you don’t overdo it with the foam roller. If you notice an increase in pain when you’re finished, or if there is swelling, warmth or bruising afterwards, those are indicators that you’ve done too much and it’s time to visit your physiotherapist.