Using a foam roller is certainly not complicated - but it's important to use it correctly to ensure you get the best results when it comes to deep tissue massage.
When you are ready to get down to some serious rolling you should choose an area which is reasonably open, with enough space around you to move about comfortably.
You must ensure the surface you are about to roll on is completely level - whether this is indoors or outdoors - and there are no small objects around which could damage your foam roller, or cause injury to yourself.
If you have any concerns at all about using a foam roller, it is always best to seek the advice of a doctor or other professional, such as a physical therapist. This is particularly true if you have any existing medical issues such as heart, vascular or chronic pain conditions. It's much better to be safe than sorry.
Self myofascial release is the fancy name for self-massage, the type of massage done with a foam roller. Using the foam roller to apply pressure to points of tension on the body you are able to help the body recover faster, increase circulation and improve flexibility.
It is important to warm up your muscles with some stretching exercises before using a roller. Also ensure you avoid using a roller directly on joints or bones and try to rest your muscles the day after a rolling session - it is best not to roll on consecutive days.
Here are the basic steps for using a foam roller. We discuss specific exercises for the various parts of the body elsewhere on this site.
It is wise to foam roll without wearing any footwear, particularly bulky shoes. Apart from the restriction and comfort aspect, this is because there are lots of very small muscles in your feet which will not be able to get involved in beneficial roller exercises if you are not barefoot.
Generally speaking, when using a foam roller to ease a muscle knot, you should feel a dull pain as the muscle is forced to release tension. If you feel a sharp pain that really hurts, something significant may be wrong, and it could be time to consider visiting a doctor, physical therapist, osteopath or chiropractor.
Foam rolling is an excellent method of releasing tension in your muscles and improve recovery from workouts, which will ultimately improve physical performance capabilities and help prevent future injury.
For more advice on foam rolling various part of the body, check out our article using a roller on specific groups of muscles.