The Non-Intuitive Approach to Foam Rolling (Why You May Be Doing it Wrong)

Tip #1: Aim to Alleviate, Never to Irritate

What if I told you that foam rolling doesn’t have to be painful? Would you believe me? Foam rolling is typically associated with pain and agony for many gym-goers, and as a result people are often steered away from doing it altogether.

Avoid this common pitfall by using only enough pressure to cause some slight discomfort that you can easily tolerate.

Find Your “Sweet Spot” on the Pain Scale

To find the correct amount of pressure to apply, you will need to first find your sweet spot on the pain scale. Here’s how to do it:

When you are  foam rolling any specific muscle group, such as your chest, a good way to gauge your pain tolerance is to rate the level of discomfort a scale from 1 to 10. If you have a low tolerance to pain, then aim for a 3-4 (or mild level of discomfort). Breathe deeply through the “tough spots” until the discomfort fades away.

If you have a higher tolerance to pain, then you can shoot for a 5-6 on the pain scale. Remember, it’s not about finding out how much pain you can endure. It’s about learning to breathe and relax deeper into the muscle tissue. Muscle relaxation is key!

Tip #2: learn When to foam roll for best results?

When is the best time to foam roll? Before a workout? How about after? Or what  in the morning? Truthfully, anytime is a good time to foam roll, but there are 3 occasions that can really enhance your foam rolling experience. Do your very best to foam roll at these times and you will be rewarded handsomely.

The best times to foam roll:

  • After your workout: This is the perfect time to foam roll because your muscles will already be nice and warmed. Enjoy a  post-workout recovery session to help relax your nervous system and speed up the recovery process.

  • After a hot shower: A hot and steamy shower has a similar effect on your muscles as a workout: As in they both warm-up your muscles and promote blood circulation.

  • Before bed: Foam rolling has a calming and relaxing effect on not only your muscles, but also your nervous system. I find that this practice is most potent if you shower first, foam roll next and then head to bed. This is a perfect formula for restful night of sleep.

Tip #3: Treat It Like Brushing Your Teeth

Brushing your teeth is, or at least should be, something that we all do at least 2-3x a day. Why not treat your foam rolling the same way? —Or at least at night— before bed. But why before bed?

Well, it’s simple really. When you foam roll at night what you are really doing is switching your body’s parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for relaxation and recovery. This will help you have a more restful night of sleep, leaving you to feel energized and well-rested when you wake up.

Not sure where to begin? Knowing which muscles to foam roll can make it easier to do it daily. Click the link below to download your Free Foam Rolling Guide . Print it out and hang it up on your wall to help remind you to get your foam roll on.