What is a foam roller?

A foam roller is a foam cylinder that can come in various sizes, 15cm wide and 30cm to 90cm long. I tend to use the longer ones because it can target a wider range of muscles around the body. The shorter ones are good for targeting the legs. I prefer the smooth rollers but you can find ones that are spiky or have grooves in them. The spiky option on foam rollers increases the intensity of the massage, which some people prefer (and some people definitely don’t!).

Foam roller

Different sizes of foam roller

What do you do with a foam roller?

You use the foam roller to create pressure over different muscles, which has the effect of releasing and relaxing them. It’s a form of self-massage and can be done daily. It’s a good alternative for those people who are time poor and can’t take time out to see a good massage therapist. I’d suggest rolling for 30-60 seconds on the one muscle group, but if this causes pain in any way then stop.

Here are a couple of suggestions for using the foam roller:

Chest Stretch

Foam roller

Chest stretch

This is a great stretch to do if you’ve spent the day sitting at a desk hunched over a computer. Laptops, in particular, are quite bad for encouraging hunching (as we’ve discussed in a previous post here). Lay down on the roller (the longer one) making sure your head is supported. Take your arms out to the side and let gravity give the muscles of your chest and shoulders a good stretch.

Quad Roll

Quad roll

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a massage after a workout? Now you can! It’s an idea to use the roller after a workout, depending on the area of your workout will depend on the muscles you will target. If you want to loosen your quads, lay face down so the roller is resting on the front of your thighs. You can keep yourself propped up by resting on your elbows or hands. Roll up and down the front of the thigh but DON’T roll onto you hip or knee joint.

Foam roller

Variation on a quad roll

A variation of the quad roll is to repeat the above but with your knees bent, this gives your muscles an extra stretch.

Calf Roll

Calf roll

Calves can get tight without you realising. Traditional static stretches will only target the muscle fibres at the back of your calf, not around the sides. Place your right or leg calf on the foam roller, supporting yourself with your hands. If you place your opposite leg over the one on the roller you will increase the pressure on your calf. This can increase the intensity but can also be sore, so only do this if discomfort levels are less than 3-4/10 (level 10 being the worst you can ever imagine, and 0 being no discomfort at all).

Using your upper body, lift your hips up and roll from just below your knee to just above your ankle. To target the muscles around the side of your calf, rotate your leg so the pressure goes onto the inside or outside of your calf.

ITB Roll

Foam roller

ITB roll

Lay on the roller so it sits on the side of your thigh. Use your upper body for support along with your opposite leg crossed in front of the one that’s on the roller. Start just below the hip joint, roll up and down the side of the thigh, stopping just before the knee.

Not quite sure if you’re using the roller right?

No problem, contact us and we’ll be happy to show you how to use the foam roller.

I’d certainly suggest if you’re about to enter training for any event or have increased the intensity of your workouts, then it’s worthwhile to jump on the foam roller so that you can maintain the flexibility of your muscles.



Trying out different exercises is key to improving and maintaining the body’s flexibility, which in turn can help with recruiting muscles efficiently.

If you’ve got any questions on the above, then please let us know (click for contact details).

Remember – Listen to Your Body!

Please remember to listen to your body. Get any aches and pains checked out sooner rather than later.


As with all information given for exercises and exercise programs, when using our exercise videos or information, please use your common sense and don’t do anything that will hurt you. By performing any fitness exercises, you are performing them at your own risk. PhysioFit Health will not be responsible or liable for any injury or harm you sustain as a result of information shared on our website or YouTube channel. This includes emails, videos, and text. Thanks for your understanding.

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