Foam Rolling? Don’t Make These Common Mistakes!

Foam rolling can be hugely beneficial to hardworking muscles—as long as you do it right! Read on for tips from Refresh and Recover.

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of relief that comes with a good foam rolling session on muscles sore from a decent workout. It does many of the same things a massage does without the price tag, and foam rollers have been shown to offer many benefits to athletes and fitness enthusiasts. Anyone from runners to weightlifters can foam roll to relieve pain, increase blood flow, and aid in recovery after a workout session.

However, for it to be effective it has to be done right—otherwise, foam rolling is just another fitness fad! As is the case with massage, there is science behind the benefits of rolling. It’s important to ensure that your practice is in line with what works so you don’t miss out on the desired result or even do more harm than good.

Rather than try to give a full instructional guide to how best to use a foam roller like Refresh and Recover, we have come up with a few common mistakes to avoid when rolling. If you can steer clear of these, you are on the right track!

One: Rolling directly on areas of pain or discomfort

While it may seem logical to get stuck right into places that hurt or feel knotted, that’s not the best approach. In fact, rolling shouldn’t be particularly painful—so back off if it’s hurting a lot. It may indicate that the muscle is inflamed, strained or otherwise irritated, and you’ll do much better giving it a rest. Rolling over inflammation can increase the inflammation. 

For minor pains like knots or IT band tightness, take a different approach: work on rolling the areas around the painful spot to loosen those up, and stick to light rolling over the afflicted area itself.

The IT band is a particular area to note, as many people experience tightness there. It is a strong and non-pliable piece of tissue that you won’t “loosen up” with a lot of rolling. Rather, you should roll out the connecting muscles.

Two: No consistency

For foam rolling to have any effect, it needs to be done on a regular basis. Daily is best, and it need only be a short session of five to ten minutes. Just don’t leave it more than a few days between rolls, as you need to keep it up to reap the benefits: reduced soreness and muscle tightness, increased flexibility, and injury prevention.

Three: Going too fast

While a vigorous rolling session might feel efficient, it’s not doing you any favours. Go slowly, taking your time and allowing your muscles the chance to adapt to the stimulation and relax. Sometimes people go fast over tender spots to roll them out because it hurts less than a slow, deliberate movement. However, if it’s too painful you shouldn’t be rolling there anyway—as we mentioned above!

Releasing tension requires a bit of time and unhurried movement. Taking your time also allows you to feel where the tense spots are, so you can pay closer attention to those areas.

Four: Rolling the lower back

Most professionals agree that while foam rolling can help with lower back pain, the way to do it is much different than you might expect. Rolling directly on the lower back is not a good idea, despite the fact that you may see many people doing it like that. Putting a roller under your lower spine can force the back into an unnatural, arched position and cause the muscles to tighten in response. 

Instead, you can respond to lower back pain by doing a seated roll on your glutes, rolling out your hamstrings one at a time, and rolling the hip flexors. Tightness in these areas often contributes to lower back issues.

Five: Bad posture

Even when you’re tending to tight or painful muscles, you need to be aware of your posture! Certain rolling methods require you to hold your body in a particular way, and it’s important to do so for the desired results. When you are rolling out your quads, for example, you are essentially holding a plank positions which can be a little tiring—but it’s necessary to engage your abs to avoid straining your back or any other muscles in the process.

Ensure that you seek instruction on how to correctly execute the various foam rolling positions, and maintain good form during your session. As we touched on above, short daily stints are best—if you keep your rolling short and sweet, you can keep your posture up throughout.

Keep these common missteps in mind during your foam rolling endeavours and you are much more likely to get the results you want. Be consistent with your rolling, aiming for short sessions daily during which you take your time and maintain the correct posture.

With Refresh and Recover, there’s no reason to skip a foam rolling session. Our innovative rollers are also insulated stainless steel drink bottles, meaning there’s even more motivation to have it with you everywhere you go. Not only will it keep your water cold, but it means you can launch into a bit of foam rolling after any workout. Stay hydrated and tend to your muscles; refresh and recover.