How I {foam} roll + a video

This post is dedicated to the foam roller.

Foam rolling2

You help me prevent running injuries, and while small in stature, you’re also able to make grown men cry. (I’ve seen it and it’s pretty hilarious.) I adore you and loathe you so much at the same time 😉

One of the things I’m most commonly asked is how to foam roll. I’ve done a couple of posts about it -you can read here and here!- but never a video. I think this is one of those things that’s easier to see than to read, and I figured it would be a great way to show some of my favorite *rolls*.

A little about foam rolling:

-Foam rolling is called self-myofascial release, and the benefits are similar to that of a deep tissue massage. It’s also much less than a deep tissue massage -around $20 or so- and is the gift that keeps on giving. You pay for it once and can use it for years.

-So what the heck is self myofascial release?

Our muscles are coated by a layer of connective tissue called fascia. (I like to think of fascia like saran wrap surrounding muscles.) Over time and through activity, fascia has the ability to become bundled in certain spots, which can give us feelings or tightness or soreness. When the fascia builds up, it can also hinder full range of motion, which can lead to compensation from other muscles and altered movement patterns which could cause injury. It’s important to keep full range of motion intact as much as possible, since this will enable your body to comfortably go through everyday motions and those we use in fitness activities.

By foam rolling, you’re smoothing out the bundled spots, and it’s important to HOLD the foam roller where you feel a tight or tender area. 20-30 seconds is perfect, but largely depends of your ability to consciously relax. Breathe deeply, and try to imagine the fascia around your muscle smoothing out as the muscle relaxes.

Some benefits:

(from the NASM blog)

Correction of muscle imbalances Muscle relaxation 

Improved joint range of motion Improved neuromuscular efficiency 

Reduced soreness and improved tissue recovery 

Suppression/reduction of trigger point sensitivity and pain 

Decreased neuromuscular hypertonicity 

Provide optimal length-tension relationships

Decrease the overall effects of stress on the human movement system

-So how do you foam roll?

Foam rolling is ideal before your workout (about 5 minutes) and afterwards. Since hindered flexibility can impact your workout, foam rolling can actually make your workouts more effective. (For example, if your calves are tight, you won’t be able to squat as low or lift as much weight since it hinders dorsiflexion of the ankle.) You’ll want to foam roll, add some active stretches if you prefer -current research is mixed on the benefits of stretching, but I think if you enjoy it and it feels good, go for it- some light cardio, do your workout and foam roll again. Or, if you’re like me, you’ll put it off until you’re in pain and randomly foam roll in between teaching classes or while watching TV on the living room floor. Whatever works, right?

Some of my favorite rolls:

Foam rolling tips and tricks

(the word “favorite” is subjective haha)


Quads  1 of 1


Calves  1 of 1

Piriformis and glutes

Piriformis  1 of 1

IT band

It band  1 of 1

Upper back

Upper back  1 of 1

Inner thighs

Inner thigh  1 of 1

Some tips:

-If you are on your back, make sure to avoid twisting motions from side to side. You have floating ribs, and never want to roll over them!

-Also, avoid rolling over any joints (like your knees!). 

-When you find the *sweet spot*, hold it for about 30-60 seconds, or until you feel it release. Roll slowly and breathe through any tender spots.

-The more you do it, the easier it gets.

A little video how-to, too:


 (A burpee game: do one every time I say “breathe.”)

Are you a foam roller? What’s your favorite?

Leave a comment on this post, and I’ll pick a winner tonight at midnight to receive their own foam roller + a copy of Soli Beat 🙂

Edited to say: the winner will be chosen October 23 at midnight EST. By winner, I mean “winners” 😉

Edited to say: Congratulations to the winners!! Natalie, Stephanie and Brittney. They’ve all been emailed. Stay tuned for more fun (sneaky) giveaways and thank you so much to everyone for entering!






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  1. Michelle W on October 25, 2013 at 11:50 pm

    I LOOOOVE foam rolling! Working on my upper back is a daily must, and when I was pregnant rolling my glutes was the only thing that took away my low hip pain.

  2. char eats greens on November 1, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    LOVE your whole outfit, Gina. And thanks for reminding me that I NEED to foam roll more consistently!!

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