How to do foam rolling like a pro

You can get a full sports massage with this little magic cylinder. Adriana Kalidis explains why and how to use a foam roller.

Until recently, foam rolling was a mysterious technique used only by athletes and physical therapists. Now, due to studies overwhelmingly proving its effectiveness, many gym goers are doing it too.

Self-applied myofascial release with a foam roller is useful both before and after a workout. It helps prepare your muscles and then helps with muscle recovery. It even reduces Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) and increases your pressure pain threshold for 48 hours after exercising.

Foam rollers actually offer many of the same benefits as a sports massage, reducing inflammation, scar tissue and joint stress while improving circulation and flexibility. If you want to boost your range of motion or performance, roll before warming up and stretching. A post-workout roll flushes your worked muscles with fresh nutrients and oxygen to heal them.

Myofascial release is achieved by rolling the foam roller under each muscle group until a tender area is found, and maintaining pressure with your bodyweight on the tender area for between 30 and 60 seconds.

1. Calf roll

Seated on the ground, place a foam roller underneath one calf with the other leg flat on the floor. For a deeper roll, place one leg on top of the other, your hands behind you and your hips off the floor to add weight onto the calf. Roll from below the knee to the ankle, pausing when you find a tight spot. Repeat on the other leg.

2. Groin roll

Lie face down on the floor with your inner thigh on top of the foam roller. Shift as much weight as you can tolerate onto the foam roller. While trying to relax your inner thigh, roll over the area between your hip and your knee. Repeat on the other leg.

3. Hamstring roll

Seated on the floor, position the foam roller at the top of your hamstrings. You can roll one leg at a time, or fold one leg over your working leg for a deeper roll. Place your hands behind you to support your weight. Lift your hips off the floor, relax your hamstring and roll from your hip to the back of your knee. Repeat on the other leg.

4. Quad roll

Lie face down on the floor with your hands or forearms supporting your weight.  Place the foam roller underneath one leg. Keeping that foot off the floor, shift your weight on the roller and roll from above the knee to the hip. Repeat on the other leg.

5. 3-point thoracic roll

Lie on your back with your feet as close as possible to your backside. Place the foam roller just below your shoulder blades. Fold your arms over your body or, for a deeper stretch, lift your arms over your head. Stretch your legs out in front of you and drop your upper and lower back as low as you can towards the ground over the roller, keeping your chin to your chest. Take 3 slow deep breaths.  Slowly lift yourself up and bring your feet back to your backside. Shift the foam roller slightly higher towards your head and repeat.

6. Lat roll

Lying on your side place the foam roller just underneath your armpit. Extend your arm with your palm facing up and shift your weight onto your lats, keeping your upper body off the ground. Use your legs to roll your lats over the foam roller. Repeat on the other side.

Adriana Kalidis
Personal Training Manager at Fitness First Bondi Platinum, Adriana has been a personal trainer for over 14 years, specialising in sports-specific and Crossfit foundations. She’s an adrenaline junkie who loves everything from snowboarding to long jungle hikes, and is participating in the Kokoda Trek in April this year. Follow her on Instagram @adrykalidis.