A foam roll, or foam roller, is a useful training tool to use as part of your recovery or regeneration plan. Sizes vary, but this cylindrical piece of tightly packed foam is roughly 5 inches in diameter and typically between one and three feet long.

Foam rolling uses deep compression to help roll out muscle adhesions, or knots, that develop over time. Think of your muscle as a shoelace. It has a certain length to it. If it gets in a knot and you pull both ends of the shoestring, the knot gets tighter. You need to work the knot out with your fingers to restore the original length of the shoelace. The same goes for muscles. Sometimes stretching is not what you need. By working out those knots in the muscle, which often arise from inactivity or repetitive activity, you’ll be able to restore the muscle to its original length, thus making it more pliable and functional.

You can use the foam roll for all your major muscle groups. Glide your body over the foam roll to work each area individually, such as the backs of your legs or your lower back. Pause at any tender points for 10 to 30 seconds before moving on to the next region. Only apply as much pressure as you can tolerate and build up the amount of time you spend foam rolling. Your muscle tissue will begin to get used to this new sensation and be more and more willing to accept the new form of self massage that you've implemented into your routine.

Foam rolling is like a massage. The compression causes your nerves to relax, loosens muscle, increases blood flow, and helps your body recover. In other words, foam rolling can alleviate soreness and make your muscles feel better.

You can use a foam roll anywhere or anytime. Many people enjoy rolling while watching television or before bedtime. Others do it at the start or end of a training session or after sitting in the same position for hours. Don’t limit yourself to the areas targeted in your training program. Use the foam roll anywhere you feel tight and in need of a massage.

What It Feels Like

You’ll probably enjoy the foam roll routine—everyone likes massages. Still, there’ll be some uncomfortable moments, as there would be during a professional massage. The first time you use a foam roll, it might be a little painful, but that's just a sign that you stand to benefit greatly from using it. Once you’re past the first few weeks, though, it’ll get considerably easier and more comfortable. The foam roll is a great barometer of the quality of your muscle and connective tissue. The better it feels, and the less it hurts, the higher the quality of your tissue.

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HOW TO DO FOAM ROLLING TO DO MYOFASCIAL RELEASE OF TRIGGER POINTS IN YOUR MUSCLES?

Place a foam roller under your right knee, with your leg straight. Cross your left leg over your right ankle. Put your hands flat on the floor for support. Keep your back naturally arched.
Roll your body forward until the roller reaches your glutes. Then roll back and forth. Repeat with the roller under your left knee. NOTE: If rolling one leg is too difficult, perform the movement with both legs on the roller.

Sit on a foam roller with it positioned on the back of your right thigh, just below your glutes. Cross your right leg over the front of your left thigh. Put your hands flat on the floor for support.
Roll your body forward until the roller reaches your lower back. Then roll back and forth. Repeat with the roller under your left glute.

Lie on your right side and place your right hip on a foam roller. Put your hands on the floor for support. Cross your left leg over your right and place your left foot flat on the floor.
Roll your body forward until the roller reaches your knee. Then roll back and forth. Lie on your left side and repeat with the roller under your left hip. If this becomes too easy over time, place your right leg on top of your left instead of bracing it on the floor).
Important Note: Your iliotibial band— commonly called the IT band—is a tough strip of connective tissue that runs down the side of your thigh, starting on your hip bone and connecting just below your knee. When you start foam rolling, you’ll probably find that this tissue is one of the most sensitive areas that you can roll over, perhaps due to the high tension of the band. Remember, pain means you need to roll it. Make this a priority, because over time, if your IT band is too tight, it could cause knee pain.

Place a foam roller under your right ankle, with your right leg straight. Cross your left leg over your right ankle. Put your hands flat on the floor for support and keep your back naturally arched.
Roll your body forward until the roller reaches the back of your right knee. Then roll back and forth. Repeat with the roller under your left calf. (If this is too hard, perform the movement with both legs on the roller.)

Lie facedown on the floor with a foam roller positioned above your right knee. Cross your left leg over your right ankle and place your elbows on the floor for support.
Roll your body backward until the roller reaches the top of your right thigh. Then roll back and forth. Repeat with the roller under your left thigh. (If that’s too hard, perform the movement with both thighs on the roller, as shown.)

Lie facedown on the floor. Place a foam roller parallel to your body. Put your elbows on the floor for support. Position your right thigh nearly perpendicular to your body, with the inner portion of your thigh, just above the level of your knee, resting on top of the roller.
Roll your body toward the right until the roller reaches your pelvis. Then roll back and forth. Repeat with the roller under your left thigh.

Lie faceup with a foam roller under your upper back, at the tops of your shoulder blades. Cross your arms over your chest. Your knees should be bent with your feet flat on the floor.
Raise your hips so they’re slightly elevated off the floor. Roll back and forth over your shoulder blades and your mid- and upper back.