Roll With Me

by tinareale on May 8, 2013

One of my favorite pieces of home fitness equipment? My foam roller. Or shall I say foam rollers. I have quite the collection because I just love getting those knots out of my muscles. Let’s see.

I have my standard foam roller, which I use daily for a regular session after a workout.


Then, there’s The Stick roller that I received in a goody bag at the Runner’s World Half & Festival. I like this for travel or a quick roll out of tight muscles.


I also have a lacrosse ball and tennis ball I regularly use for those tough to get areas – my shoulders/upper back, arches of my feet, hip flexor and groin area (by propping the ball on a yoga block and laying my inner thigh or upper hip area over it).


And we can’t forget the newest addition to my collection – The Rumble Roller – because some things just hurt so good. I use this bad boy for pesky spots in my IT band, calves, etc that won’t let up with the regular roller. Not something I use all the time though since it is more intense to the muscles.


Fair to say I have a thing with foam rolling and believe in it whole heartedly. Why? I’ll tell you!

Foam rollers serve as tools for self myofascial release – in other words a deep tissue massage you can give yourself. I love me a good sports massage but why pay $60-100 per session when you can buy a standard roller to help do the same for $20-40 and it lasts for at least a few years?

How does the self myofascial release stuff work? Our bodies work together as a unit. When one muscle gets too tight, it pulls another part of the body out of alignment, and so on and so on. One off kilter muscle can lead to overload in other muscles, tendons, joints, etc as the body tries to compensate for that imbalance. These faulty movement patterns can turn into injuries.

By keeping our muscles at their optimum lengths, we allow the body to function more effectively. It can help improve flexibility, better performance, and reduce injuries. It does this through improving imbalances, maintaining optimal muscular length, increasing the range of motion of our joints, and helping to relieve stress on tendons and joints.

Now that you understand why, what about the how?

When a tight spot or knot in the muscle is placed under pressure it has a natural reflex (caused by something called the Golgi Tendon Organ) to release that knot, which helps bring the muscle back to a more natural length (think a rope that was knotted being untied). The key is placing the knot under pressure long enough for this reaction to occur. Enter the foam roller (or other torture self myofascial release device like the ones I have above). We can use these objects to find sore spots, then settle into them to allow our bodies to release. Do it regularly as part of your fitness routine and you should notice a difference to areas that normally feel tight.

For a quick image to share some common foam rolling techniques, I suggest this one via Greatist.


Do you love your foam roller? Use any of the others I have in my arsenal?


1 Erica { } May 8, 2013 at 7:25 am

I started foam rolling after some pretty severe running-induced knee issues in January (I suspect it was IT Band problems) and I have been running pain free ever since! Even if I just go for a quick 2 mile run now I will always use the roller as soon as I get home.

2 Meghan @ After the Ivy League May 8, 2013 at 7:37 am

I am so glad I bought a foam roller a few months ago. I love mine and try to use it after every workout, and definitely after every run. It’s helped me recover so much more quickly from a hard workout! I honestly look forward to foam rolling since I know it’s so good for my muscles!

3 lindsay May 8, 2013 at 7:44 am

wow, great tutorial! I will be sharing this for sure. Love hate the foam roller

4 Kim May 8, 2013 at 7:59 am

I have several foam rollers, too. I started foam rolling a couple of years ago when I did P90X2 – there is a whole DVD dedicated to foam rolling. I’m not as consistent as I should be but I try. Is the stick worth having?

5 Linz @ Itz Linz May 8, 2013 at 8:05 am

i do love my foam roller… i use the stick occasionally, too! i feel like the stick is less intense

6 Katie @ Talk Less, Say More May 8, 2013 at 8:19 am

I LOVE my foam roller! And honestly, I think it’s a HUGE reason for having such a great experience with my first 1/2 marathon and training. When I started regularly foam rolling mid-way through, my legs FELT better and recovered better from my runs. I foam rolled the night before my 1/2 marathon and was hardly sore after my race.

7 Lee May 8, 2013 at 8:22 am

I have a regular foam roller and the Stick, but I never remember to use them!

8 Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table May 8, 2013 at 8:35 am

It’s like you knew just what I needed to hear today. I know all of this. I have the tools. I certainly have the pain. Why am I so lazy?! I will roll tonight. I swear.

9 Tamara May 8, 2013 at 8:57 am

Foam rolling; love to hate it! That spiky one looks hard core Tina!
Thanks for sharing this important information!

10 Kaleigh May 8, 2013 at 9:03 am

I love my foam roller!

11 Christine @ Love, Life, Surf May 8, 2013 at 9:49 am

I love my foam roller but I think that it might be time for me to upgrade to a rumble roller! There are some pesky spots in my IT band and calves!

12 tinareale May 9, 2013 at 7:33 am

It’s great for the pesky spots.

13 DeeDee @ Exercises For Fat Loss At Home May 8, 2013 at 9:56 am

Foam rollers have done wonders for me! I particularly like the Rumble Rollers. This little jewel seems to find all the tense little spots that my smooth roller misses.

14 Caroline May 8, 2013 at 10:13 am

I love my foam roller… well… love hate it:) I also got a stick for Christmas and it goes on every vacation with me. My IT bands get tight pretty quickly, so it’s a great tool to have! I also use tennis balls for my upper shoulders and my hip where the IT band attaches into it.

15 Fiona @ Get Fit Fiona May 8, 2013 at 10:30 am

That infographic is awesome – thanks for sharing!

16 Bethany @ Accidental Intentions May 8, 2013 at 10:49 am

Holy smokes, that Rumble Roller legitimately looks torturous. All those spikes — OW! I got a three-in-one foam roller for Christmas (, and when I first got it I absolutely hated it. So much pain! Now I foam roll after every run, though, and I really think it helps me out. At the very least, I no longer have quite as many super tender spots on my legs (which is probably good for my roommates, since I now rarely whimper in pain while rolling haha), and that makes me quite happy! Big fan of my foam roller these days :)

17 [email protected] May 8, 2013 at 11:37 am

Great post on why & how!! That infographic is really great too!

I LOVE/HATE my foam roller. It’s pink, so that makes me happy though <3 Speaking of, today on a break, I am going to foam roll!

18 Michelle @ Eat Move Balance May 8, 2013 at 11:41 am

I LOVE my foam roller(s). I use a regular foam roller at my gym, and have The Grid roller at home. I have the stick and tennis balls, too! I think I’ve got my bases covered–lol. :)

19 Heather (Where's the Beach) May 8, 2013 at 11:53 am

Great explanation. I love my Trigger Point Kit as well as the Grid. Oh, and golf balls work really well as do softballs!

20 [email protected] May 8, 2013 at 12:12 pm

Ooh I bet that Rumble roller is tough going! I use the grid one in the gym but not often enough!

21 Paige @ Your Trainer Paige May 8, 2013 at 12:23 pm

I love this infographic! I see so many people foamrolling wrong (just going quickly up and down the leg) and sometimes I’ll even go over and correct them. But sometimes people just don’t want to do it right I guess (or just don’t want to feel the pain ;) ) because they’ll go back to rolling like a maniac lol

22 tinareale May 9, 2013 at 7:35 am

I have a feeling it’s the pain. Haha!

23 Danielle @ itsaharleyyylife May 8, 2013 at 12:41 pm

I love lacrosse balls they dig right on in to ya!

24 Emily @ The Good Era May 8, 2013 at 2:26 pm

I LOVE my foam roller and swear by it to anyone who will listen ;) After experiencing an IT band injury and not being able to run my second half marathon, I try to foam roll my legs after every run. And you are so right, it’s much cheaper than a massage!

25 Heather @ Better With Veggies May 8, 2013 at 3:32 pm

I LOVE the foam roller, such a fabulous training tool, especially for injury prevention! I’m a huge fan! :)

26 Lauren (@Poweredbypb) May 8, 2013 at 3:40 pm

Love foam rolling, need to do it more often though!

27 Alexis May 8, 2013 at 3:49 pm

Great post! Thank you. Just this morning I was trying not to look like an idiot as I attempted to roll out my legs. Seeing the images of how to correctly do it… Clearly I failed!

28 Kierston @candyfit May 8, 2013 at 4:37 pm

I’m thinking it’s about time I take my foam roller out of its packaging!

29 jobo May 8, 2013 at 5:22 pm

LOVE this post friend, so so useful and chock full of WHY foam rollers are so useful and for what areas of the leg and body. I just shared this with our barre n9ne studio ‘barre to 5K’ group on facebook as I think this is an awesome resource for them on why they should get a foam roller :) and I am tucking this away for reference too!! (wow, I just got WAY too excited about foam rolling!)

30 Melissa May 8, 2013 at 7:30 pm

Foam rollers are one of the things I credit for helping my shin splints heal! I do want a portable one, since the large rolls just aren’t that practical for travel.

31 Michelle May 8, 2013 at 8:09 pm

I have the Orbit – which is a cross between a foam roller, the rumble roller, and a tennis ball. It’s been awesome this pregnancy when it’s somewhat awkward to lay on the floor and roll out my muscles. I just put it up against the wall and apply pressure that way! It’s reeeaaalllly nice on the small of my back.

32 tinareale May 9, 2013 at 7:35 am

I must find what this thing is. It sounds like something i would LOVE.

33 Jessica May 9, 2013 at 5:09 am

Now I feel guilty. I’ve got right rollers, but always forget about using them. :-(

I think I’ll use that great infographic as real reminder. Thanks!

34 Ari @ Ari's Menu May 9, 2013 at 10:18 am

The tennis ball on my feet after a long run is my faaaaavorite. I love to hate the foam roller and the stick, but the tennis ball is a 100% love relationship!

35 Amanda @ Diary of a Semi-Health Nut May 9, 2013 at 4:51 pm

Gah those deep tissue massages are intense! I really should get one of those foam rollers though!

36 foam rolls packaging July 15, 2013 at 3:03 am

Standard foam roller really helps a lot in exercise. It comes in different shapes and size. They are durable and comfortable. It’s Design enhances balance, body awareness, muscle re-education, motor planning, neural and muscular flexibility, and dynamic strengthening.

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