How to Use a Foam Roller

Learn how to efficiently use your foam roller.


Michelle Hamilton |

If you use a foam roller only to rehab injured muscles, you’re not getting the most out of it. A roller—which looks like a firm log—can be a valuable part of a healthy runner’s warmup and cooldown routine, says Michael Clark, a physical therapist. Rolling improves circulation, which gets the body ready for a workout and helps it recover afterward. And because rolling breaks down knots that limit range of motion, it preps muscles for stretching. Try these routines, moving slowly and stopping and holding on tender spots.

WARMUP
Rolling increases blood flow and releases muscle tightness that can interfere with proper running form.

CALVES
Put the roller under a calf. Rest your other foot on the floor. Roll from the ankle to below the knee. Rotate the leg in, then out. Stack ankles to add pressure.

ILIOTIBIAL BAND
Lie on your side with the roller near your hip, rest your other leg’s foot on the floor. Move along your outer thigh. Increase pressure by stacking your legs.

PIRIFORMIS
Sit on the roller and place one foot on the opposite knee. Lean into one buttock and roll forward and back, using your supporting leg to control the pressure.

COOLDOWN
Rolling flushes out toxins to help recovery.

HAMSTRINGS
Place the roller under your thighs. Roll from the knees to the buttocks. To increase the pressure, roll one leg at time, turning your leg in and out.

ADDUCTORS
Lie on your stomach with one leg extended slightly to the side, knee bent. Place the roller in the groin area of the extended leg and roll the inner thigh.

QUADRICEPS
Lie on your stomach with a roller placed under the front of your thigh and slowly roll up and down from the bottom of your hip to the top of your knee.

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