The Foam Roller

I’ve had a foam roller for a few years now, and I actually do use it with a degree of regularity. Mostly I use it when doing my chiropractic homework or have a body part needing attention, even though I’ve often heard the benefits of foam rolling daily. I’ve got plenty of excuses for not making this a daily habit. I can be lazy. I don’t think I need it. I feel like I don’t have the time. I’ll do it later (and then forget). It will be too uncomfortable on my sore muscles, usually the quads or hamstrings. Just excuses.

Last Wednesday when I saw my chiropractor in the midst of my melt down over my painful and uncooperative SI joints, he told me to begin rolling my entire body from head to toe. As much as I can be stubborn, rebellious, and lazy, I also want my body to be healthy and well functioning, which means that I have faithfully followed my chiropractor’s orders since that day. From the bottom of my feet to the top of my head and it feels amazing! I use a lacrosse ball on my feet and head, because it is simply easier. I think my favourite part is the head actually.

Foam rolling isn’t always a comfortable process, but here are a few tips based on my own experiences:

  • If you have long hair, wear a hoodie and put the hood up when rolling your upper back and head. You don’t want to pull your own hair!
  • If your ears are pierced, either remove your earrings first or be careful when rolling your head that you don’t stab the earring back into your skull!
  • It doesn’t need to take a long time. While I haven’t timed myself, I’d estimate that it takes me between 10-20 minutes to roll my entire body.
  • If you feel some body parts need more attention, spend a little more time there but don’t overdo it.
  • It’s generally easy enough to make adjustments to the amount of pressure based on how much bodyweight you rest on the roller. If you have sore quads, for example, you might find it rather uncomfortable and downright painful to use all of your weight when rolling your quads.
  • Make sure you have a bit of floor space to sprawl out. The foam roller seems to wonder as you roll.
  • There are different styles of foam rollers. Some are pure foam, while others are much harder, like a wee bit of foam surrounding hard plastic. If you’re really hard-core, you could even use something like a barbell or rolling pin to manually roll your quads. Trust me…the barbell isn’t fun when the quads are sore!
  • When rolling your glutes make sure you don’t have pockets with buttons or zippers on the back of your clothing. Actually, buttons, snaps and zippers aren’t fun to roll over anywhere!
  • If you like to watch television in the evening, then why not do some foam rolling while you watch…
  • Seriously, rolling a lacrosse ball around your head feels amazing, like a massage, and it is incredibly relaxing.
  • Wear comfortable, stretchy clothing. Sometimes I wear my jeans, but my jeans are stretchy enough that I could squat in them if necessary.
  • Ignore the strange looks and comments your family might make as you groan or whimper. I do!



3 thoughts on “The Foam Roller”

  1. Hello again! For foam rolling, should the roller be perpendicular or parallel to the body? And for a beginner, would a larger diameter foam roller be a good place to start or a foam roller that has a smaller diameter? I have a foam roller but I never use it because I don’t know what to do with it. Thank you! -Em

    1. I’m no expert by any means, but I’d say that the angle of the roller would depend on what part of the body you want to roll and what works best. For legs and back, perpendicular works best. For some of the smaller, more awkward areas, such as pecs and hips, sometimes I find it easier to have the roller almost parallel. Experiment to see what works best for you. Likewise, I can’t really say which size of roller is best. A larger, softer one might be better for someone just starting out, but if you already have one then I’d just use that. There is undoubtedly lots of good sources on the internet, but here’s a link that looks like it has useful information:

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