The Benefits Of Foam Rolling And How To Do It

Foam rolling

Scott Macintosh, of The Yard Athletic, tells us the importance of foam rolling for self-myofascial release

Do you think foam rolling is just a waste of time? I’m sure you’ve seen people at the gym roll on these long cylinder foam type things? You might of dismissed them while on your way to your step and tone class or powerlifting session. But, actually there is something to them. You see, regular training leaves your body feeling tight as your muscle tone changes and adhesions and scars build up over time. Using a foam roller is actually an effective and cheap way to reduce and manage the adhesions and scar tissue in fascia as well as release painful muscular trigger points.

Practical application

Incorporating SMR into your training is really easy. At first you may want to start by using one of the roam rollers available at your gym. Be weary of overused foam rollers though, they could be too soft and could have lost their structural integrity. It is therefore advisable to consider your own so you can perform these drills at home.

How to do it:

The general approach to foam rolling is to use your body weight to ‘sandwhich’ the roller between the soft tissue you are trying to release and the floor. You then roll over the specific area in a slow, controlled fashion.

What to expect from regular foam rolling?

  • Decrease tone of overactive muscles
  • Improved mobility and range of motion
  • Improved quality of movement
  • Decreased injuries
  • Improved recovery and performance

When to roll

  • Before working out as part of a warm up
  • During a separate recovery focused session
  • After your workout to release tension and improve circulation

When not to roll

  • When you have an injury
  • If you have circulatory problems
  • If you have chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia
  • On joints

Try these rolls to target different body parts

Calf releaseCalf release

Sitting on the ground with your legs straight, place one calf on top of the roller. Lift your butt just on the floor with your arms and roll back and forth, covering the full length of your calf muscle. Roll for 30-60 seconds per leg, pausing on tight spots. When you pause on a tight spot try to make circles with your foot or point it up and down. This will help stretch the fascia and release it. Be sure to work the medial and lateral aspects of your calves by rotating you foot while rolling.

Foam rollingTensor fascia latae and glute release

Lie on your side, with the roller placed under the front part of your hip. Support your upper body by placing the elbow of the same side and the opposite hand and foot on the ground. Roll back and forth over the outside portion of your hip. You can also face down towards the floor to hit the anterior portions of the hip. Roll for 30-60 seconds per side.


Lie on your stomach, on the ground with the roller parallel to your body. Bend one hip and knee, placing your inner thigh on top of the roller. Place your elbows under your shoulder to maneuvre yourself. Roll back and forth over the inside portion of your thighs. Roll for 30-60 seconds per leg. You can also straighten your leg to release your adductors in a different way.


Sit on the roller with the soft part of your lower glute, directly on the roller. Begin slowly rolling back and forth and slightly side -to -side to release any tight sports in the muscle, working your way down to the glute -hamstring junction. Slowly roll down your leg toward your knee, working the hamstrings in the same way (up and down, and side to side). Pause on any tight or sore spots.

Thoracic spine releaseThoracic spine release

Lie down with the foam roller placed in the middle of your upper back. Cross your arms to separate your shoulder blades. Lift your hips just off the floor. Slowly roll up and down the top 3⁄4 of your back. Pause at each level performing spinal extensions by slowly extending the upper back, lowering your shoulders towards the floor.

Quadricep ReleaseQuadricep Release

Lie on your stomach with the roller under the front of one thigh. Support your upper body with your forearms, keeping it off the floor. Roll back and forth over
the front of your thigh, keeping your knees straight. Roll for 
30-60 seconds per leg. You can release all the different quadricep muscles by changing the angle of your leg, focusing on the lateral and medial quads.

Modelled by Ashleigh Frost 

Author: Tanja Schmitz

Founder and Editor of Fitness Magazine. You’ll find her behind her computer or on her bike, dreaming up new ways to improve or create content for you.