How to use a Foam Roller

A foam roller is one of the most popular additions to any sportsperson’s kit bag these days.

That’s because it’s hugely beneficial to use before or after exercise, and ideal for those annoying muscle aches. It’s benefits include muscle tightness relief, reduced inflammation, increased flexibility and improved recovery. They’re also affordable, easy to store and portable.

Foam rolling is now being looked at as a necessity to include in your training schedule for quicker recovery, allowing you to get back to peak performance on the pitch or the track as quickly as you can.

In this blog, we’ll give you the lowdown on how to use a foam roller.

How to use a foam roller

When learning how to use a foam roller, it’s best to be overly mild rather than too intense when you’re just getting started.

As you gain a better understanding of how your body reacts, you can vary your intensity. In general, you’re going for a level of discomfort that ‘it hurts so good’.

Pushing through discomfort into true agony won’t get you there faster, but it will put you at danger of harm. When you roll too hard, you can really injure your muscles.

To use your foam roller, follow these steps:

  1. Identify the location of your muscle that is sore or tight.
  2. Slowly lower the targeted area until it is centred over the roller, keeping your body in control.
  3.  Lower your body onto the foam roller and hold it there until you reach a point of discomfort (but not pain).
  4. Hold the position for 20–30 seconds.
  5. The pressure is beneficial on its own, but you may also roll slowly back and forth to stimulate the area further.
  6. Continue rolling slowly along the muscle, stopping and holding in the regions that require extra attention

Experiment with tiny adjustments to your body position while using your foam roller to find the most effective technique. Also, remember to take deep breaths. Many people become so preoccupied with the sensation of rubbing a painful knot that they forget to breathe.

Check out this excellent full body rolling routine using the BackBaller roller:

Does a foam roller help back pain?

Foam rollers have long been popular among athletes and physical therapists, but they’ve recently gained popularity among non-athletes with back problems.
Foam rolling can help relieve back discomfort, but it’s important to perform it right or you’ll end up doing more harm than good.

If you have a pre-existing back or spine disease that is causing your muscular tightness, consult your doctor before starting any program to “treat” or “deal with” back discomfort. If you’re new to foam rolling, you might want to consider working with a physical therapist or trainer who can teach you how to use it properly.

A foam roller should never be used directly on the lower back. The use of a foam roller on the upper back is permissible since the spine is protected by the shoulder blades and muscles of the upper back. In the lower back, there are no structures that can help protect your spine from the pressure.

If you use a foam roller on your lower back, the spinal muscles may tighten, causing more harm than good, particularly if your back discomfort is caused by a lumbar spine disease. When rolling your back with a foam roller, stop when you reach the end of your ribs.

When most people use the foam roller to identify a knot or delicate spot, they tend to work on it for a long period, sometimes utilizing their full body weight to put pressure to the area. This may result in nerve or tissue damage as well as bruising. Excessive pressure applied while wincing in pain will not help; foam rolling might be uncomfortable, but it should never be unbearably painful. Working on a tender region should take no more than 15-30 seconds.

You should roll at a speed of no more than one inch per second. Slowly moving allows your muscles to adjust to the pressure and relax.

The types of foam roller

There are different types of foam rollers on the market and it is a good idea to know what the best model is for you and when to use it.

If you’re in the gym looking at the different foam rollers or in-store looking to buy your own, have a read through the different types below to give you more of an insight.

how to use a foam roller


Low-density rollers

These are lightest and softest foam rollers you can find and are great if you have sore muscles after an intense workout. You can work your way to a firmer foam roller as your muscles recover.

Firm rollers

This is the densest foam roller you’ll usually find and perfect for athletes who need a quick recovery time. It offers a deeper concentrated release on the muscles working out knots and trigger points. Remember this will be a more intense workout so if you find it too sore opt for a lower density foam roller. Some people like the added soreness on their muscles so this all depends on what’s right for your muscles when using it.

Bumpy rollers

These are probably the most common foam rollers you see. It is designed with some texture and bumps on the foam roller to really dig into your knots and trigger points to get that release. Some muscles like the shoulders have more knots than others so this is great for releasing tension in these areas.

Back Baller

The BackBaller is a foam of a bumpy foam roller with a structured operating system that allows easy control. It get’s teeth into the muscles for an even greater self Myofacial release.

You can take foam rolling to the next level with the BackBaller, by putting you in total control over the force applied in an unprecedented secure and comfortable manner. The BackBaller is specifically designed to self-treat muscles in your upper & lower back. Due to the stability & control offered it goes beyond really kneading out those muscle groups.

What is Myofascial Release Therapy?
Myofascial release is a form of soft tissue massage intended to support pain relief, increase range of motion, and balancing of the body. Techniques can include manual and self-massage.


Take a look at our selection of foam rollers In-store or online HERE. Free delivery on standard delivery’s when you spend €60 or more.

how to start foam rolling


Elverys Intersport Vhi WMM ambassador Hayley Coleman has pushed on with her preparation for the June Bank holiday weekend and she has found that rest and recuperation is just as important as her training over the last few weeks.

Feeling fragile after a recent 10k race in Castlebar, Hayley has been singing the praises of her Trigger Point foam roller.

“I’ve been using it all week since I did a 10k on Sunday,” she told us. “I was not feeling the best all week in the run up to the race, but I said I’d do it anyway but I was sore since. I went and did another 5k then, and a few (fitness) classes and maybe I should have rested but [the foam roller] has been brilliant. I’ve been living with it all week!,” she laughed.

Her experience on foam rollers was limited prior to starting her training but she recognises the benefit now.

“I would have used it in the gym but because I didn’t have one at home I wouldn’t have spent as much time using them. It completely loosens out any knots you have, it is really good. I didn’t know that my hip flexors would be so tight from the running, but I’ve used it on those and my glutes all week and they are a lot better now. If you have little knots it helps stretch them out and works your muscles. It’s been great, I think I’ll keep using it all the time.”

“The guys in the gym showed me how to use it properly and if you have one you need to know what to do, but if you do it’s really beneficial. I wouldn’t have known what to do with it before, I’d have been just looking at it but it’s been great.”

She has found it especially useful after a long day in the car and on her feet at work.

“Totally. Your lower back, glutes, if they are tight, your back, your hamstrings will be at you and this is why the foam roller is so helpful – I’m using it even when I’m watching TV! Just to give yourself a good stretch, it might hurt a bit but that’s the way you know it’s working!”

Hayley also branched out to using fitness technology in the shape of a FitBit Flex to keep her up

“I’ve been spending my time getting the hang of it, because to be fair there is a lot to it, there are so many bits to it that keep surprising me. You can track your steps, you can check your sleep patterns, everything. I get an email which tells me what my most active day was, and that is great because it is a good reminder.”

“You’re finding new parts to it the whole time, even with my running it tells me how far I’ve gone, the pace I’ve been going at, things I wouldn’t know. You can input your age, your weight, whether there’s any weight loss you want to reach, when you want to lose it by, how much you’ve lost each week – it’s a great help. You wouldn’t even notice you have it on either, it’s very unobtrusive and light.”

Hayley discovered that her fitful sleeping habits can be an issue prior to running so she’s hoping to get in more sleep before the Vhi WMM race day.

“With my sleep [patterns] it’s telling me that I’m only sleeping five hours a night – I would have thought it was more, but I wake eleven times a night on average. You don’t realise why you’re shattered in the morning – you’re thinking you’re after a good night’s sleep. It’s great like that, it’s really helpful.”

“After the 10k I was shattered and I only really came back to myself a few days after but what happened was that I was working very hard that week and I was up at 5am, 6am every day, and by Sunday (race day) I woke up and I was shattered. What I learned was that I need to ensure that I have plenty of rest in the days leading up to the race itself on June 6th. I was burnt-out, and maybe a bit dehydrated. It shows how important sleep and rest is and it’s just as important as training.”

Follow Hayley’s progress and much more on every week until the big day June 6th