Start Foam Rolling With This Simple Home Routine

Foam rolling is a simple (albeit uncomfortable) way to assist with improving your overall mobility. Foam rolling falls into the health maintenance category of what is most commonly referred to as SMR (Self Myofascial Release). SMR is a fancy term for self-massage, which is essentially what you’re doing when applying pressure to a specific area of the body with a foam roller. There are many other tools that can be used to effectively employ SMR such as lacrosse balls, supernovas, mobility sticks, mobility stars and more!


If you’ve experimented with foam rolling any part of your leg, you’ve probably realized immediately that this is an excruciating experience. Well, it shouldn’t be. Although not a measure of causation, there is certainly a correlation between the amount of discomfort you experience to the relative level of restriction that you currently have throughout your body or an area of your body. Often, you will find that the joint pain you are experiencing will equate to increased discomfort in the surrounding musculature. For example, many individuals who experience discomfort in their knees tend to find it uncomfortable to incorporate SMR on their calves, quads, hamstrings, IT bands. After implementing a quality foam rolling / SMR session, it is commonly found that immediate relief is experienced. Obviously, this relief varies on an individual level, but it is encouraging to all who experience it!


To provide you with a visual, think of fascia (which is basically like a sheath that covers all the muscle in your body from head to toe) as a spider web. When you’re feeling discomfort in a certain area of the body, this is commonly a sign that the fascia has become knotted / twisted / out of alignment in some capacity. Due to this misalignment or knotting of the fascia, it places increased tension onto surrounding joints often contributing to relative pain and discomfort. When SMR is employed, many of those knots / misalignments can be worked out, releasing small restrictions and allowing the fascia to return to its optimal position.


So why not go for a massage? Well, massage is a great way to assist with maintaining optimal health and performance in terms of releasing restriction and unnecessary tension in order to maintain healthy joint function. In fact, if it already isn’t, massage therapy SHOULD be a part of your regular health maintenance routine. Unfortunately, not everyone is in a position to afford the time and money required to have a daily massage or a massage therapist available for every tweak and knot incurred in daily routines. We can all get our hands on our own foam roller or borrow one from a friend / local gym. Incorporating 5 to 10 minutes of SMR daily can provide a world of relief, for sure!


If you’re not certain where to get going, here’s a very basic full body foam rolling routine that should take you 10 to 15 minutes and will prioritize more of the larger muscle groups in the body. It is a great starting point to begin developing the habit of getting down on the ground and getting limber!

  1. Upper Back - 30-90 seconds

  2. Lats (THIS IS THE HARDEST OF THEM ALL) - 30-90 seconds per side

  3. Quads - 30-90 seconds per side

  4. IT Bands - 30-90 seconds per side

  5. Hamstrings - 30-90 seconds per side

  6. Calves - 30-90 seconds per side


If you’re committed to attaining gains in your overall health through improved mobility, and determined to rise above initial discomfort (which lessens with consistent application), daily SMR is well worth the time investment!


Ben Graham