The Benefits of Foam Rolling

What is Foam Rolling?

Foam Rolling, or Self-Myofascial Release, is a technique designed to release restrictions in the body such as trigger points, muscle tightness, and dysfunctions in soft tissue that may cause pain and limit motion in all parts of the body. 

Myofascial tissue is a type of thick, strong, fibrous connective tissue that extends throughout your body to provide support and protection to your muscles and bones.

Why is it essential to Foam Roll?

The cause of myofascial tightness and restrictions includes numerous factors, such as trauma, musculoskeletal conditions, repetitive stress, and poor posture (think sitting in a chair all day). 

Foam rolling enables the tissue to become softer and more pliable and can alleviate muscle tightness for optimal joint range of motion and enhance overall movement performance.

Who should Foam Roll?

Everyone! Foam rolling can treat pain and increase mobility in people with a wide range of conditions, including back pain, neck pain, and fibromyalgia. 

How exactly do you use a Foam Roller?

If you are foam rolling for the first time, ease into it by starting with a softer roller and focus on gently applying pressure to the areas you choose. You can even put a foam roller up against the wall to help control the amount of pressure. 

Once you begin to find a comfortable position and the right amount of pressure, roll the affected area for roughly 20 to 30 seconds. Remember to take deep breaths and relax as you roll, which allows your body to know everything is okay. 

Does Foam Rolling hurt?

Foam rolling should be “comfortably uncomfortable,” but not to the point of pain that it makes you never want to do it again. 

If it is causing too much pain, this could create a negative physiological and psychological response. High pain causes a tightening and restricting response in the nervous system and also creates a negative association with that activity, so we want the body to be as relaxed and comfortable as possible so that we are able to massage the tissues efficiently.

When is the best time to Foam Roll?

Anytime you feel the need to loosen your muscles, especially if you have been sitting for long periods. However, in the spirit of fitness, foam rolling before and after a workout is immensely practical. 

Pre-workout (warming up): The pressure from rolling can help increase blood flow and elevate heat in the involved tissue. Using foam rollers also helps reduce tightness and increase joint ROM (range of motion), which is very important before a workout.

Post-workout (cooling down): Myofascial release can help promote a feeling of relaxation after a workout, which aids in the process of cooling down. It can also speed up the recovery process post-exercise and reduce the effects of DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness).

What are the most common/best areas to Foam Roll?

Mid/Upper Back

Lean back against the roller, positioning it beneath your shoulder blades. Raise your hips slightly and maneuver your body up and down to find sensitive areas. Keep the roller between your shoulder-blade region. Avoid the neck and lower back, where there is little support. Take slow, deep breaths. 


Rest the roller at a slight angle toward the backside of your armpit. Rock your body forward and backward and up and down to search for sensitive areas.


In a seated position, support your body with your hands behind you to prop yourself up. Place one leg on the roller, starting at the lower calf (above the Achilles). Roll your calf by moving your body slowly toward the roller. Search for sensitive areas along the calf.


Rest your weight on your left elbow with the roller above the hipbone. Cross your left ankle over the right knee to reach a little deeper. Find the sensitive area and switch sides to compare. 

Happy foam rolling!


Anschutz Health and Wellness Center