foam-roller-631x421How to Use a Foam Roller for Myofascial Release

After a long workout, a massage has can have significant effects on the body and its recovery. Foam rollers can offer the same benefits as massage but for a much smaller cost. A foam roller can stretch the muscles and tendons, and it can also break up soft tissue adhesions, or scar tissue. Using your body weight to press against the foam roller allows you to perform a self-massage, myofasical release, and increase blood flow and circulation to the soft tissues

What is myofascial release? Myofascial release is a bodywork technique in which a practitioner uses gentle, sustained pressure on the soft tissues while applying traction to the fascia. This technique results in softening and lengthening (release) of the fascia and breaking down scar tissue or adhesions between skin, muscles and bones

What is fascia? The superficial fascia is a soft connective tissue located just below the skin. It wraps and connects the muscles, bones, nerves and blood vessels of the body. Together, muscle and fascia make up what is called the myofascial system.

Myofascial release can relieve several muscle and joint pains, such as, IT band syndrome (see previous blogs), medial tibial stress syndrome (AKA “shin splints”), also improving flexibility and range of motion. As mentioned previously, foam rollers are inexpensive and with a bit of experimentation you can target just about any muscle group.

 How to use the foam roller?

Using a foam roller is pretty easy, however, it may take some practice, and some strange body positions, in order to target your problem areas.  First, you need an open floor space. Second, position your body on top of the foam roller, paying attention what area bothers you, for example, for IT band issues you will lay on top of the foam roller on either your left or right side. Your body weight creates the pressure, so try to relax. You control the pressure by applying more or less body weight on the foam roller and using your hands and feet to offset your weight as needed. It’s helpful to try a variety of positions and see what works best for you.

Tips for Using a Foam Roller

  • Always check with your doctor before using a foam roller for myofascial release.
  • Do not use a foam roller without your physician’s approval if you have any heart or vascular illness or a chronic condition.
  • Perform foam roller sessions when your muscles are warm or after a workout.
  • Position the roller under the soft tissue area you want to release or loosen.
  • Gently roll your body weight back and forth across the roller while targeting the affected muscle.
  • Move slowly and work from the center of the body out toward your extremities.
  • If you find a particularly painful area (trigger point), hold that position until the area softens.
  • Focus on areas that are tight or have reduced range of motion.
  • Roll over each area a few times until you feel it relax. Expect some discomfort. It may feel very tender or bruised at first.Foam-Rolling
  • Stay on soft tissue and avoid rolling directly over bone or joints.
  • Keep your first few foam roller sessions short. About 15 minutes is all you need.
  • Rest a day between sessions when you start.
  • After a few weeks you can increase your session time and frequency if you choose.
  • Drink plenty of water after a session, just as you would after a sports massage.


Provided by Primus Sports Medicine Staff