If you’re new to the world of foam rollers, it might seem strange that so many athletes and sports people are obsessed with these giant foam logs. But as many websites and YouTube videos show, foam rollers are a must-have piece of equipment that can help with recovery, stretching, and even pain relief.
Here’s how to get the most out of this simple but incredibly useful piece of equipment.
What are medical professionals saying about foam rollers?
As many health and fitness professionals confirm, foam rollers are a useful tool with many potential benefits. For example, a Harvard Health Publishing article examines the myofascial release technique offered by foam rollers. By working the myofascial tissues and muscles with massage (or a foam roller), you can help tight muscles relax, which can reduce pain and soreness, as well as aid recovery.
Using a foam roller at the end of a workout is one way to speed up your recovery, according to Houston Methodist. It’s especially beneficial if you target the muscles used during this workout, as well as the muscle groups nearby.
There are also a few caveats regarding foam rolling. Moving slowly with sustained pressure is key to achieving myofascial release, as noted by the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). Otherwise, you could just skim the skin without reaching the muscle underneath. Finally, many medical professionals advise against foam rolling the lower back, which can actually worsen mechanical problems or other conditions by putting too much pressure on this part of the body, as explained in more detail in NASM.
Get foam rolling demos and more tips on YouTube
Get the most out of your foam roller with lots of exercise routines, tips and other tips from top YouTubers. With videos that show a full demonstration of each move, you’ll be mastering these routines in no time.
1. Bob and Brad
Physical therapists Bob Schrupp and Brad Heineck run a YouTube channel covering just about everything on the body, from back pain to tendonitis. Their down-to-earth and joking style has attracted millions of followers who enjoy their health content. Many of their videos also cover stretches and exercises, including a few looks at foam rollers.
Foam rolling the lower back can bring these joints together rather aggressively, as Bob and Brad explain, so it’s generally a good idea to avoid rolling there. However, they show ways to roll the middle back using gentle leg movements. Plus, they explain exactly how foam rolling motions affect the spine, even using a skeletal model for demonstration.
Designed to help you improve your posture and even prevent pain, this routine targets your mid-back, hip flexors and hamstrings. Bob and Brad explain exactly how to deploy every muscle, and they share some great humor along the way.
Physiotherapist Dr. Jen Esquer runs a popular YouTube channel with advice on everything from touching your toes to improving your posture. She is also part of the Optimal Body podcast covering physical therapy topics.
Dr. Jen Esquer and Dr. Domenic Fraboni explain the basics of foam rolling as a form of self-massage, and they dispel some common myths. (You don’t have to ride on a super hard surface, and riding shouldn’t cause much pain). They also explain the best times to use a foam roller – you can use one before a workout, but it’s also a fantastic post-workout recovery tool, especially when paired with breathing techniques to relaxation.
Dealing with text neck? Dr. Esquer explains how to release neck tension with a few simple stretches on a foam roller. Add some quick exercises to correct your posture to further relieve some pain.
3. Tone and tighten
Physical Therapy Doctor, Jared Beckstrand runs this YouTube channel with lots of information on relieving muscle pain and stiffness.
Dr. Beckstrand teaches you how to target your computer tape while riding. By loosening the muscles around the IT band with specific exercises demonstrated in the video, you can reduce tension in this common problem area.
Help improve your posture with this simple routine that Dr. Beckstrand regularly shares with his patients. With nothing more than a foam roller and a towel, you can stretch your shoulders, back, and arms and generally feel more comfortable.
4. Marcus Rios
A professional soccer player, Marcus Rios is also a popular fitness YouTuber with plenty of content to explore. Warm-up exercises, exercises, and stretching routines all feature the Rios chain.
Work hip flexors, quads, IT band, calves and more in this detailed video. Follow in real time as Rios goes through this routine. Rios also reminds you to ride at a steady pace without rushing to let the body take full advantage of the recovery.
Many people use a foam roller on their legs and back, but it can also be a fantastic tool for your upper body. Follow Rios for a full upper body stretching routine, which includes lots of foam rollers in the second half of the video. Even lats can benefit from a little foam roller attention.
5. Vlad Ixel
Trail runner and ultramarathoner, professional runner Vlad Ixel has plenty of inspirational fitness content. In particular, Ixel’s recovery videos are a great watch for any athlete.
Follow Ixel’s lead on this foam roller routine that’s perfect for days after an intense workout. You’ll get unique approaches to rolling your calves, Achilles tendon, back, glutes and more. By hitting the muscle groups used for running, you can get great recovery with the roller.
If you need help getting on the road, consider the best running apps for Android and iPhone. Sometimes a little virtual coaching is enough to help you take the next mile.
As Ixel shows, it is also possible to use a foam roller for strength and stability work. Even simple changes, like putting one foot on the foam roller while doing squats, can add a little extra dimension to your usual routine.
Take your foam rolling routine to the next level with YouTube Fitness Videos
A few tips and demonstrations from fitness professionals will allow you to use the roller like never before. With the best foam rolling videos on YouTube, you’ll be rolling to greater recovery and relaxation in no time.
You can try each of these channels at home and at the gym, so you’ll have plenty of flexibility, both technically and literally.