6 Foam Roller Moves To Loosen Tight Muscles

Fitness: Workouts

By: // January 27, 2016


If you’re not using a foam roller, we have one question for you: why not? Maybe you don’t know how to use it, or what it’s for. Maybe you’ve watched someone roll on top of it while cringing and biting their lip and wondered “Why would someone do that?!” Maybe you just don’t buy the hype. So to answer your burning questions, here are three quick responses:

Yes, it hurts a little!
Yes, it works!
And yes, you should be doing it!

Foam rolling has become the way to perform self-myofascial release—a fancy term for self-massage to release muscle tightness or trigger points. Basically, by applying pressure to specific points on your body you are able to aid in the recovery of your muscles. Of course, getting a deep tissue massage is a nice way to go too, but it takes a lot of time and gets very expensive. For as little as $25 you can find a basic foam roller and in 10 minutes begin that well-needed release your muscles need to stay pain-free.

Here are six simple foam rolling moves that cover the majority of common muscle issues. For each move, spend at least 30 seconds rolling slowly and gently and if you find a “knot” in the muscle you are rolling, stop for a few seconds and let the roller apply pressure to that spot. It will be uncomfortable at first, but keep breathing and let the roller do its work. Momentary discomfort will lead to long-term relief! It will also make future workouts better and prevent injury in the long-run.

Back Relief

Chris Freytag demonstrating Foam Roller Back Roll in a red tank top using a blue foam roller1) Begin in a slightly reclined position with the foam roller under your mid back, feet hip-width apart.

2) Walk feet slowly forward as the roller glides up your back. Stop and concentrate on any tight areas. (Note: do not foam roll the low back. Try a massage ball on either side of the spine to help relieve tight muscles.) 

3) Move forward and back for 30-60 seconds.

Calf Relief

Chris Freytag demonstrating Foam Roller Calves in a red tank top on a blue foam roller1) Begin in seated position with the foam roller directly under the top of your calves and your hands just behind your hips.

2) Lift your hips off the ground and slowly pull body backwards so roller glides up your calf. Move back and forth gently for 30 seconds, stopping at any tight areas.

Hamstring Relief

Chris Freytag demonstrating foam roller hamstring in a red tank top using a blue foam roller1) Begin seated with hands behind you, hips off the floor and foam roller under right hamstring.

2) Keep right leg relaxed and long with the left knee bent over the roller and left foot on the ground.

2) Begin to press into the left foot on the ground, slowly moving the body back as the foam roller rolls down the right hamstring. Keep right leg relaxed as you roll.

3) Glide up and down the muscle for 30-60 seconds concentrating on any tighter areas.

4) Switch sides.

Related: 7 Health Benefits of Using a Foam Roller

IT Band Relief

Chris Freytag demonstrating Foam Roller IT Band in a red tank top using a blue foam roller1) Lay on your right side with your forearm down and the foam roller placed just above knee joint.

2) Bend left knee and place left foot in front of right foot.

3) Relax your right leg as you slowly roll yourself back so the foam roller glides up your leg. Move gently back and forth for 30-60 seconds, concentrating on any tight areas.

4) Switch sides.

Lat Relief

Chris Freytag demonstrating Foam Roller Lat Roll in a red tank top on a blue foam roller1) Lay on your back with the foam roller at armpit level, knees bent with feet on the floor and hands behind the back of your head.

2) Twisting slightly to the right, push slowly into your feet so your body begins to move back and the roller glides down along your lats on the right. Return slowly to start.

2) Repeat for 30-60 seconds concentrating on any tight areas.

4) Switch sides.

Quad Relief

Chris Freytag demonstrating Foam Roller Quads in a red tank top on a blue foam roller1) Begin face down with foam roller beneath the top of the thighs and hands below chest with arms slightly bent.

2) Slowly press arms to straight pulling the body upward and forward so the foam roller glides across the front of the thighs.

3) If you choose, you can lean your body weight onto one leg and roll and then switch to the other instead of rolling both evenly.

4) Gently continue to push and pull the roller over the thighs for 30-60 seconds, concentrating on any tight areas.

Try these rolling moves before and/or after any workout, or use them at home any time you need to release your tightness or knots. You can do them every day, but 2-3 times a week is recommended.

READ THIS NEXT: The Best Home Gym Equipment Under $40


Printed from GetHealthyU.com

3 Comments


Diane on March 23, 2017 at 2:12 PMReply

I've used the foam roller on my low back and loved it, but recently I read another article that said you should not roll the low back because the kidneys are there. Do you feel that it is ok? I never experienced any problems doing it and it always felt good, but I stopped.


    Chris Freytag on March 23, 2017 at 7:40 PMReply

    Yes - you are right - rolling directly on the 5 lumbar is not recommended. In the back roll photos in this article - it’s the mid to upper back I was rolling. Often suggested is using a massage ball (like a lacrosse ball) on either side of the low back to help relieve tight muscles - I actually do that everyday for my back. That being said - with a soft foam roller - I see lots of people rolling their low back at the gym and I have never heard anyone say they hurt themselves from it. SO it depends on the firmness of your roller - but you are right it isn’t recommended.


Mary on August 23, 2015 at 7:30 PMReply

It would be nice to print the article with the pictures in place. There are ways to do it but you have it so it is quite difficult



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