How to Use a Foam Roller for Muscle Recovery

How to use a foam roller for muscle recovery

Have you seen those weird foam cylinders in the stretching area at your gym recently and are wondering what the heck they are? Well they’re foam rollers, and you can use them to aid your body in everything from muscle recovery, to deep tissue release and stretching out your muscles that are sore from working at a desk.

Foam rollers are used for something called myofascial release. Essentially, it’s a fancy term for massaging. By using a foam roller and your own body weight, you’re basically giving yourself a relaxing deep tissue massage. When used correctly, foam rollers can release the tension and tightness between the muscles and fascia (the stuff that surrounds a muscle or group of muscles). Tension and tightness is usually caused by repetitive motion – so things like running, but also resistance training, sports and even just working at a desk for too long.

Foam rolling, along with stretching, can help improve flexibility and range of movement, and decrease your risk of injury. Plus, a foam rolling sessions can feel really good on your body.

Because you’re using your body weight with the foam roller you control how hard you go. While you want to feel some ‘pushing’ on the muscle, if an area really hurts then ease off by using more of your body to support yourself (like putting your arms on the ground). For really sore areas, use the foam roller up against a wall rather than on the floor. As the muscles release, you can add more ‘weight’. In other words, work to your own pain threshold and listen to your body.

Which Areas to Work Using the Foam Roller

You can use the foam roller on a heap of different muscles. We’ve outlined some of the major muscles you might want to try, but if you have tension somewhere else than try rolling it and see if that helps the muscles relax. As always, go at your own pace and with your own knowledge of your body.

IT Band (Iliotibial Band)

This is the muscle running along the outside of your thigh and can often feel tight as a result of squatting and sitting. To roll it, position your hip on top of the roller on the floor. Cross your top leg over and use your hands to support yourself. Roll your thigh back and forth over the roller from the point just below your hip to just above your knee.


This area feels amazing after a rolling session. Sit with your butt on top of the roller and hands behind you for support. Roll a few centimetres each way. For a deeper stretch lift one leg off the ground.


Sit on the floor with the roller positioned under one of your calf muscles, with the other foot flat on the ground for support and your hands behind you. Gently lift yourself off the ground and roll along your calf, stopping just below the knee.


Lie in a plank position, with the foam roller positioned underneath both of your quad muscles. Using your hands, gently roll yourself back and forth.

For more ideas on using a foam roller on your muscles, check out the video below. And if you want to try out a foam roller for yourself, have a go next time you’re at Liberty Fitness Gym.