Apr 5, 2018
On a Roll

Foam rolling is one of the easiest and most effective ways to increase flexibility and aid recovery. Simply rolling over each muscle can be beneficial, but in order to get the most of this technique, it’s important to develop a routine that targets the specific needs of your athletes. This will save time in the long run and provide your athletes with a variety of benefits.

An article on TheAthleticBuild.com describes how to develop an effective foam rolling routine. To start, it’s important to understand why this practice can be so valuable. Not only will it aid in recovery, but it can also help improve athletic performance.

Essentially, foam rolling helps break down knots and trigger points in the muscles, which can easily build up in athletes from training and competing, causing tightness, pain, and reduced flexibility. By rolling out these points of tension, athletes can increase flexibility, lengthen and strengthen shortened muscles, and increase mobility for specific sport or training-related activities. In addition, it can also help athletes warm up their muscles before working out and stretch out their muscles afterwards, which will improve recovery times.

In order to build the right routine, you will need to identify the areas where you athletes should put the most focus. Movement screening tests can be very helpful in making these decisions. But just as important is knowing the demands of the sport and recognizing where athletes are likely to be experiencing tightness, soreness, and lack of mobility.

Here are some suggestions from TheAthleticBuild.com on how to develop these routines:

Ankles and Hips

These are common places to find tightness and mobility issues. If an athlete fails a screening for hip mobility, have them roll out their glutes and hip flexors. In addition, they should try to stretch out their hips by doing lunges.


An effective screening test is to have athletes hold themselves in a squat position. If their heels come off the ground or their back is rounded, they should probably foam roll their hips and calves and work on increasing ankle mobility. The rounded back may also be a sign that they need to strengthen their core.


If an athlete is experiencing pain in the lower back or buttocks, it might be because of pressure being put on the sciatic nerve. This can sometimes be managed by foam rolling the hip flexors and piriformis.


There are many variations of foam rolling. One of the best ways for an athlete to work out shoulder knots is by putting a lacrosse ball or tennis ball in a sock and then slinging it over their shoulder and leaning against a wall. This way, athletes can control the height of the ball and the pressure placed on the knots. Athletes can do the same thing on the ground with a ball or a foam roller to cover a wider area.

Do’s and Don’ts

• Athletes should identify the target muscles and start by rolling over them slowly. When they reach a knot or trigger point, they should hold the foam roller there for around 30 seconds or until the pain/discomfort starts to subside. Then, keep rolling over these areas until the tension in the muscles starts to lessen.

• Don’t let athletes use a foam roller on their lower back. Also, tell them to avoid rolling over any bones but to focus on the muscles instead.

• There is not a limit on how much athletes should foam roll. But the most important times to do it is before and after working out.

• Pick a foam roller that meets the needs of your athletes. There are a variety of different sizes and shapes of rollers, so think about how they will be used beforehand.

Image by MyoTrigger Foamrollers.

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