5 Ways To Foam Roll Away Tightness And Pain (Alternative Medicine Series)

Tightness. Stiffness. Painful hips. Achy shoulders. After a tough workout, or a long day, these terms seem to be more commonplace and daunting. As I got older, I became increasingly perplexed at how I could possibly “sleep wrong” and wake up with new aches and pains that seemingly came out of nowhere. Then, as I added in long distance running- Yowzers!- was my body tightening up faster than a rubberband ready to snap.  Something had to give and I was hoping it wasn’t my hamstrings! It was time to pull in the back up plan – foam rolling. Why was it my back up plan? Honestly, I didn’t quite believe the hype. How was this girl’s body, and workouts, going to possibly be transformed by rolling on a piece of foam? Here is what I discovered and my 5 favorite rolling techniques to loosen me up…


First, what is foam rolling and what are the benefits?

You may have seen gym-goers or athletes rolling away on these cylinder foam rollers and you may even have thought, “Wow, this is serious business” or maybe you backed away with some intimidation. Foam rolling is not just reserved for serious athletes or the most fit of fit. Foam rolling is an incredibly beneficial technique that is like a delicious self-massage! It directly targets the myofascial tissue and helps to release it’s tightness. The technique is actually called “Myofascial release” and it is a soft tissue therapy for the treatment of skeletal muscle tightness and pain. This alternative medicine therapy aims to relax contracted muscles, improve blood and lymphatic circulation, and stimulate the stretch reflex in muscles. Sounds fancy, right? More like beneficial. How will it change you to being a foam rolling lover?

  • It helps to increase flexibility and decrease tightness
  • It decreases aches and pains almost instantly
  • It destresses the mind and the body
  • It detoxifies the body
  • It helps to decrease common injuries
  • It increases blood flow and opens up the lymphatic system
  • It decreases inflammation
  • It decreases headaches and migraines

How do I roll?

  • If you find that some areas are very tight and are painful under the foam roller, allow yourself to place static pressure on that area until some of the discomfort dissipates (about half the discomfort). At that time, allow yourself to lightly roll over the “hot spots” and increase pressure as you can tolerate it.
  • Use the foam roller as a way to warm up before an activity or a way to “stretch” and slowly release the tension out of your muscles following a workout.
  • Do not roll over top of joints as to this may be uncomfortable and place too much pressure on the less stable joint.
  • Use slow and controlled movements and avoid being too
  • If you are very tight and the pressure of the roller is too uncomfortable, start with only a few rolls (about 30-40 seconds) and slowly increase the time as tolerated.
  • When you feel better and looser, DO NOT stop rolling. Continue foam rolling for regular maintenance and to receive all the incredible health benefits!

My essential exercises to destress and loosen up

Illiotibial Band


Balance on your forearm and place non-worked leg over the front of your working leg. You can use that leg to push you back and forth. Lying on your side, roll right above the knee to right below the boney protuberance on the side of your hip. Roll for about 2-3 minutes with slow and controlled movements.



Balance on your hands to work the hamstrings from your glutes to your knees. Cross one foot over the other to emphasize one side. Roll for 2-3 minutes.



Begin lying facedown with the roller under your quadriceps. Balance on your elbows. Work you’re way up or down the roller, from top of quad to right above the knee. Place greater emphasis on one leg, if needed, by either crossing over the back of the opposite leg or shifting body weight to one side. Roll for 2-3 minutes.



Start by sitting down and begin by balancing on your hands. Roll from right below your knees to the top of your ankles. Emphasize one side by crossing your legs and isolating one calf at a time. Do this with toes pointed out and up. Roll for 2-3 minutes for each leg.



Lying flat on your back, begin with roller around the mid of the back. Put your hands behind your head. Slowly roll to mid or upper shoulder area, depending on where you need to focus. You can roll to the right or left to emphasize one side. Roll for 2-3 minutes


“Keep calm, and (foam) roll on, to kick my aches and pains to the curb” ~Tansy N. Rodgers


Take action now! Where are you having the most discomfort or where are you chronically tight and sore? Is it your upper back or your hips? Regardless of the location, make out a list of areas to attack and reserve 10-15 minutes after your workout to give yourself a self-massage that will loosen up your joints and eliminate your aches and pains. Devote 3-4 days per week to start to foam rolling your problem areas.
Go to the comment section. Make a comment and let me know what you have struggled with, what you have tried, and what your action plan is. The best discussions start between like-minded friends! Share this with your friends and get more people in on the action.
Do you currently use a foam roller? If so, I want to hear all about it! Live your life with passion and purpose…
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