Foam Rolling Basics for Fitness and Injury Prevention

Roll away your muscle woes. Foam rolling can alleviate tightness and help reduce risk of future injury.

At first glance, a foam roller seems like a low-tech piece of fitness equipment, but this simple, tube of compressed foam is high value. When used correctly, a foam roller can help reduce muscle soreness, increase joint range of motion, release muscle knots, aid in the management of fibromyalgia, and even lessen feelings of fatigue and sadness.

But how does a piece of hard foam offer relief?

Foam rolling is a form of self-massage that targets the fibrous, connective tissue that surrounds and supports the muscles. When this connective tissue becomes tight or loses its elasticity, it increases the risk of your muscles suffering from soreness or injury. Foam rolling helps untangle and separate these fibers, which effectively re-establishes the integrity of the connective tissue.

You’re probably thinking: Is foam rolling right for me? The answer is, yes! Foam rolling is not just for endurance athletes and yogis; people of all ages and ability levels can benefit from this form of self-massage. When using the foam roller, there’s a certain degree of discomfort that should be expected, but sticking with it can help reduce the risk of injury in the future. Try using it out before a workout to warm up, or after a sweat session to relax and relieve tension.

So how can you safely and effectively incorporate the therapeutic benefits of foam rolling into your fitness routine? The Mayo Clinic Health System has outlined basic foam rolling techniques for beginners to introduce themselves to the feeling, movement, and motion of the foam roller.

This Monday, make foam rolling part of your fitness routine with these practices that target the hamstring, quadriceps, and glutes.


Hamstring (back thigh)

  1. Sit on the floor and place a foam roller underneath your legs, just above the knees.
  2. Take a breath and try to relax your feet and legs as much as possible.
  3. Use your hands to lift yourself up, and begin to roll back and forth from above the knees to the start of your glutes.
  4. Keep your torso straight with your spine in a neutral position.
  5. When you come upon a spot of soreness of tension, pause and hold the position for at least 30 seconds, or until you can feel the muscle relax.


Quadriceps (front thigh)

  1. Lie on your stomach and place a foam roller underneath your thighs, just above the knee. Hold yourself up by resting your upper body on your elbows (this should resemble a plank position).
  2. Using your arms, slowly push yourself back and forth to roll from above the knee and to the top of the thigh.
  3. Keep your spine and head aligned in neutral position.
  4. When you find a sore spot, stop and hold the position for at least 30 seconds, or until you can feel the muscle relax.



  1. Sit on the top of the foam roller and cross one ankle over the opposite knee. Use your hand to steady yourself and hold your balance.
  2. Relax your leg and tilt toward the bent leg.
  3. Slowly roll from the top to the bottom of the glute muscle.
  4. When you find a sore spot, stop and hold the position for at least 30 seconds, or until you can feel the muscle relax.
  5. Switch sides and repeat.