Foam Rolling Guide and Explanation

Sunday, March 23, 2014

At Body Basics, we always have our clients start with myofascial rolling. This is one of the best ways to prepare the muscles and joints for working out. There is a layer of tissue that surrounds all the muscles and joints in the body and really ties the whole body together; this is the myofascial tissue.

Anytime this tissue is irritated by injury, overuse, a workout, or even just being in one position too long (ex. working at a desk), this tissue tightens up, along with the muscles. The body tries to protect any area of injury or soreness by binding up tighter. If we were out in the wild trying to survive, this would be good, because we might get attacked any second by a lion. Since we really just want to take the best care of our bodies possible, and there is no instant threat, then we choose to work those issues out and get them on the path to healing as fast as possible! The foam roller helps us do this.

When we put the pressure of the roller on a particular area, that area has to either tighten up to fight the pressure or release and allow the blood to circulate better, which in turn, promotes healing. You might notice when you are rolling and you hit one of those really tender, tight areas that you first want to fight it. Your body tightens up and you can barely stand to keep the pressure on it. Hold it! Take a deep breath and try to relax, your body will be forced to release all those knots and bound up tissue. This is our goal in rolling.

We want to loosen up the myofascial tissue and the muscles so that your whole body can move freely through your workout. If you can’t move properly you won’t be able to do your exercises properly. Full range of motion is essential and will help prevent injury and imbalance in your body. An added bonus with foam rolling is aiding in injury rehabilitation. Many physical therapists refer their clients to use a foam roller around injuries to speed up their recovery.

Below is a brief video with Leah guiding you on the basics of foam rolling. It quickly reviews the main rolls we do at Body Basics. There are more options available, especially if you are focusing on a specific injury, but we recommend you come and talk to one of our trainers for more specific advice! You can call us at 208-429-1236, email us or fill out our contact form.

Every area should have the roller contact it about 10 times, meaning 5 times up and down.

  • Upper Back – Roll from the back of your shoulders to a little lower than halfway down your back. Up and down at least 5 times slowly.
  • Lat-Armpit – From deep in the armpit to just below your shoulder blade on the outside. This will be only a few inches up and down.
  • Hips-Piriformis – Cross one leg while seated on the roller, roll the hip of the top, crossed leg. Sit up as tall as possible, so that you don’t round your back.
  • TFL/ITB – Roll from the top of the hip all the way to the top of the knee. Use your top leg and arms to help take some pressure off if this one is too painful. It will get less painful the more you do it.
  • Hamstrings – Roll from the bottom of the glutes to the back of the knees. Cross one leg on top of the other if you don’t feel it getting deep. Shift the leg to the inside and outside to get all of the hamstring muscles.
  • Calves – From just below the knee all the way down to the ankle. Just like the hamstring, get all sides and cross one leg on top of the other is you don’t feel enough pressure.
  • Quads – Face down on the roller, from the top of the hips to the top of the knees. Shift your body around to get all sides of the quads.

Here are a few things to be careful of in this video.

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