How NOT to foam roll correctly

Aren’t Sundays lovely?  Yesterday was so fab!

The weather is even warmer than yesterday, but I am still in this “wear leggin’s and sip coffee all day” kinda mood.  How about you?

Sundays are a great day for me to catch up with laundry, grab groceries, snuggle Quinn, clean, and do a little meal prepping.  It just sets the tone for the week ahead.  I also make time for a recovery type workout on Sundays and lately it’s been foam rolling.


Typically, Even though I workout seven days a week.  Those seven days tend to look like this:

Upper Body + Core

Lower Body


Upper Body + Core

Lower Body

Core + HIIT

Foam Rolling

Total rest days are not necessary unless you want them.  As you can see, I do something every day, but I am taking time to recover actively with PiYo or rolling.

So today, let’s focus on how to properly foam roll.  If you are entirely new to foam rolling, Gina has a great overview and video here.  I know there are a ton of resources out there about the benefits and how to target certain areas, but I still see people rolling wrong.  I want to just elaborate on rolling and share a few things NOT to do.

This is typically what I see people doing at the gym.  <<Sorry if you are guilty!  Here are a few things you can correct to benefit more.

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Do NOT roll cold

Well technically, if you are going to break one rule (you rule breaker, you) let this be it.  I just prefer to do some fluid movements that give me an idea of my mobility before I roll.  Lunge with twist, plank to downward dog, swan dives, etc.  This also helps to get blood flowing to the muscles and “activate” them.  After I roll I can go through the same motions to compare my range of motion and mobility.

Do NOT hold your breath

In through your nose.  Out through your mouth.  Breathing is going to help you relax and will provide the muscles with oxygen which is necessary for recovery.  If you are in pain (you should not be in pain) you will likely stop breathing and tense up.  Take some weight off the area so that you can tolerate the pressure and breathe.

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Do NOT roll without stopping/roll too fast.

Slowly roll until you feel the tight area and then stop.  Rolling quickly over the entire area is not going to give the muscles time to adapt and you won’t eliminate any tender spots.

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Do NOT roll over joints.

You should only be rolling over muscles since foam rolling is considered a technique for Myofascial release (myo- muscle, fascial-fascia/connective tissue.)  Joints and bony areas are not meant to be rolled and shouldn’t be under the pressure of your body weight or injury could follow!

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Do NOT stay on one spot for too long.

All you need is 20-30 seconds and you can move on to a new spot.  Feel free to revisit a tight area, but holding for too long or adding too much pressure can leave you feeling bruised.  Have you ever had a torturous deep tissue massage where the therapist digs his/her fingers into your muscle?  Same thing.  OUCH!

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Do NOT roll your lower back.

Spinal torture at it’s finest.  Your muscles are the only thing protecting your lower back and they will tense up in an effort to do so.  Stick with the upper back and make sure you stop while still on the ribs since they protect the spine.

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You are NOT drinking water afterward

While you were giving yourself a free massage, you were holding your body in some positions that required work and good posture.  That is a slight workout itself which means you need to re-hydrate.  You will also help the kidney and pancreas flush out the toxins that you just released from the muscles.  A well hydrated body will help oxygen transport which means faster recovery time, too!

I hope this cleared a few things up for you so that you can really benefit from this tool!  It’s really been a game changer for me.

Did you learn something new?

What muscles are often tense for you?

If you are an avid roller, what has changed for you since you started rolling?


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