Should You Foam Roll?

You see people rolling out in the lounge at RiDE – are you ever wondering what they are doing (and whether you should be doing it)?

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Foam rolling is basically a way to practice myofascial release on yourself, sort of like a mini self-massage with the primary goal of breaking down adhesions in your muscle and connective tissues. Foam rolling can also increase blood flow which can help with athletic performance and recovery.

Should YOU foam roll? Unless you can afford a daily massage, the answer is YES, especially if you are participating in any kind of strenuous exercise or athletic endeavor. But, you need to make sure you are doing it correctly and not damaging your tissue and creating inflammation in the process.

When using the foam roller, avoid these common mistakes:


  • Mistake #1 – Rolling to the point of excruciating pain. No pain, no gain, right? Well, not really. We want to break down adhesions but not cause further trauma to an area. Try to gently roll around the affected area first, and work your way to the big knot.

  • Mistake #2 – Rolling directly on the IT Band. The ITB (or iliotibial band) runs down the side of your leg and is a big, tough, piece of connective tissue. That piece of tissue is not very pliable so you want to work the big muscles that connect to it (like the glute, the biggest butt muscle) and the tensor fascia latae, the muscle that runs along the outer edge of the hip. Focusing on these will also be less painful (see above) and you will get more out of your roll.

  • Mistake #3 – Rolling too fast. Take a deep breath and R-O-L-L. Rolling should really be done slowly and methodically. Take your time, feel where the irksome muscle fibers and connective tissues are and givie them attention. Go the length of the muscle.

The bottom line is that yes, you SHOULD be foam rolling. And if you really want a treat, take a 60 minute foam rolling class @ Remedy: Barre + Foam Rolling (another awesome women owned studio in Oakland!). You will literally roll your entire body – even your jaw muscles - and walk out feeling SO relaxed, light, and ready for your next adventure.

Deb Collard, MSPT
Owner, RiDE Oakland (and licensed physical therapist!)

HEALTHJenni Schwartz