Get rocking and rolling with these simple, effective starters.
Celebrity trainer Ashley Borden believes everyone needs to spend a little more time foam rolling, and she’s on a mission to make it happen. While the benefits of foam rolling regularly are pretty spectacular (it will help make your workouts more effective, and hopefully reduce post-trainings soreness, too), knowing exactly how to use the workout tool can be a little confusing. If you’re ready to start a regular foam rolling routine, or just want to make sure you’re doing the moves correctly, Borden’s got you covered with step-by-step instructions for her favorite beginner foam rolling moves.
Foam rolling is definitely worth getting familiar with because it can help you get more out of your workouts—the practice helps work out knots in your fascia, the connective tissue around your muscles, which can restrict your movement. By releasing these knots before a workout, you can increase your range of motion. This means you’ll be able to get deeper into exercises, making them more efficient and effective. For example, if you can get deep into a squat, you make sure the right muscle fibers are firing so you’re engaging them correctly. (Need more convincing? Here’s a primer on why this matters.)
Fair warning, foam rolling can be a little painful when you're just starting out or when you're feeling super tight, but it's worth the discomfort. Of course if something feels really off, or you're experiencing sharp pains, stop and consult with your doctor.
Ready, set, roll.
1. Quad Roll-Out
- Start in forearm plank with the roller under the center of your quads perpendicular to your legs, as shown. Keep your head in line with your spine, eyes facing downward, and pull in your belly.
- On your forearms, crawl forward until the roller is just above your kneecaps, then crawl backward until the roller is at the top of your thigh.
- If you hit a sore spot, hold the roller there and bend and extend the leg that is feeling the knot.
- Focus on placing your weight in your left leg for 90 seconds, then focus on your right leg for 90 seconds.
2. Calf Roll-Out
- Lie on your back with your hands behind your head, fingers interlaced. Position the roller under the bottom of your left calf, and cross your right ankle over your left calf on the roller for pressure, as shown.
- Keeping your left foot relaxed, slowly turn the foot in and out to massage your left calf.
- Slide the roller up your left calf and repeat the movement until the entire calf has been rolled out.
- When you feel a sticking point as you roll your calf, hold on that point and do a giant circle with your bottom foot 3 times in one direction and 3 times in the opposite direction. Then move to next section of the calf.
- Continue for 90 seconds, then repeat with your right calf.
3. Glute Roll-Out
- Sit on the roller (perpendicular to your body) with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor and hands on the floor behind you to support your body.
- Cross your left ankle onto your right knee.
- Tilt your left knee down toward the floor to open up your hip, as shown.
- Using your right foot to move you, slowly roll back and forth. Try a few slightly different knee angles to adjust the intensity.
- Continue for 90 seconds, then repeat with your right glute.
4. Lat Roll-Out
- Lie on your left side with knees slightly bent, your left knee slightly in front of you.
- Bend your left elbow and cover your ear with your hand to support your head and neck. Try to not have any tension in your neck.
- Place the roller just below your left armpit, perpendicular to your body, as shown.
- Slowly rock forward and backward 5 times at armpit, and then move the roller to the place where the bottom of your sports bra hits. Rock forward and backward slowly.
- Alternate between these two spots for 90 seconds, then repeat on the right side for 90 seconds.
5. Upper Back Roll-Out
- Lie face up with the roller under the bottom of your shoulder blades, knees bent and feet planted on the floor.
- Interlace your fingers and place your hands behind your head, relaxing your neck.
- Engage your core and raise your hips up off the floor.
- Using your feet, slowly roll your body up and down so the roller moves from the bottom of your shoulder blades to the base of your neck, as shown.
- Continue for 90 seconds.