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Originally Published: Mar 07, 2018

Many people go to the gym and rush through their workout without making time to warm upcool down, or properly stretch. Forgoing these activities results in sore muscles, slower movements, and weaker performance during exercise.

Enter the foam roller.

A foam roller looks like a Styrofoam tube and can usually be found in the weight training or stretching area. Also called self-myofascial release, foam rolling is a great way to prepare and revive your muscles pre- or post-workout.

This practice has been proven to:

  • improve athletic performance and flexibility
  • reduce workout-related soreness
  • shorten recovery time from injury
  • boost blood circulation
  • relax knots and relieve pain in your muscles

Roll before exercise if you want to boost your range of motion, increase blood flow, or loosen your muscles for elevated performance during your workout. After your workout, use a foam roller to relax your muscles, prevent soreness, and stretch. A foam rolling practice as short as 30 – 60 seconds has been proven to show results—make time in your schedule to give your body a little TLC.

The best part: foam rollers are a cheap, versatile piece of equipment that suits all fitness levels and pain points. 

If you’re new to foam rolling or looking for some extra guidance, acac personal trainer Erin Mays demonstrates three easy movements below:

Upper Back Foam Rolling
Lie on your back with roller placed horizontally at the base of your shoulderblades. Slowly move your back over the roller, making sure to support your head and keep your butt on the ground.

IT Band Foam Rolling
Lie on your side, propped up on your elbow. Place roller beneath the middle of your thigh, and rest your other leg on the floor. Move roller down to your knee and up to your hip without rolling over any bones.

Calf Foam Rolling
Place roller beneath your calf, resting your other foot on the floor. Keeping your hips off the ground, roll from your ankle to below your knee. Make sure to rotate your leg from side to side as you roll.