How to Use: Foam Rollers

Try this at-home remedy for sore muscles.

foam rolling

Sure, you know how to use treadmills and hand weights. But what about all the other equipment in your gym? In this series, we’ll cut the intimidation factor and give you new tools for getting your best workout.

Foam Rollers

Post-Spin class, your endorphins will be flowing. But when you drag yourself out of bed the next day, you likely won’t be feeling that same exercise high.

Sore muscles are a great reminder that you’re getting stronger—but all the positive reinforcement in the world won’t change the fact that you can’t walk up stairs after a particularly tough HIIT class. That’s where foam rolling comes in.

Foam rolling, or self-myofascial release, is the process of alleviating trigger points in sore muscles. Using a foam roller helps to locate tender muscle areas, then reduce pain through pressure. It can also help prevent injury and increase your range of motion.

Foam rolling can be done after your workout, before, or any time you feel like you need a light massage. Here’s how to use foam rollers to soothe your muscles:


Place the foam roller at mid-calf. Cross your left leg over your right to increase the pressure. Roll until you locate a tender spot, and hold for a minimum of 30 seconds.

Repeat with the other leg.


Place the foam roller under your right hamstring. Roll until you locate a tender spot, and hold for a minimum of 30 seconds. Repeat with the left leg.

You can also place the roller under both hamstrings and roll them out at the same time, if preferred.

IT Band

The IT band is the ligament that runs down the outside of your leg, from the hip to the shin. Inflammation of the IT band is a common side effect or running, or any exercise that causes the leg to turn inward. It can often manifest itself as knee pain.

To release tension in the IT band, lie on one side, with the roller at the top of the thigh. Cross the top leg over the bottom one for stabilization. Roll from the hip joint to the knee until you find a tender spot, and hold for a minimum of 30 seconds.

Repeat on the other side.


Sit on the foam roller, placing it directly under the glutes. Cross your left foot over your right knee and roll until you find a tender spot. Hold for a minimum of 30 seconds, until discomfort is reduced.

Repeat on the left side.