If you’re new to the world of foam rollers, it might seem weird that so many athletes and fitness people obsess over these giant foam logs. But as plenty of websites and YouTube videos go to show, foam rollers are an indispensable piece of equipment that can help with recovery, stretching, and even pain relief.
Here’s how to make the most of this simple but incredibly useful piece of gear.
What Do Health Professionals Say About Foam Rollers?
As many health and fitness professionals confirm, foam rollers are a helpful tool with plenty of potential benefits. For instance, a piece in Harvard Health Publishing 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 loosen up, potentially reducing soreness and pain, as well as aiding in recovery.
Using a foam roller at the end of a workout is one way to boost your recovery, according to the Houston Methodist. It’s particularly beneficial if you target the muscles used during that workout, as well as nearby muscle groups.
There are also some caveats about 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 might just grace over the skin without getting to the muscle below. Lastly, many health professionals advise against foam rolling the low back, which can actually worsen mechanical issues or other conditions by putting too much pressure on that part of the body, as further explained by the NASM.
Get Foam Rolling Demos and More Advice From YouTube
Get the most out of your foam roller with plenty of exercise routines, tips, and other advice from leading health YouTubers. With videos that show a complete demonstration of every move, you’ll get these routines down in no time.
1.Bob & Brad
Physical therapists Bob Schrupp and Brad Heineck run a YouTube channel covering just about everything on the body, from back pain to tendinitis. Their down-to-earth, jokey style has attracted millions of followers who enjoy their health content. Many of their videos also cover stretching and exercises, including a few looks at foam rollers.
Foam rolling the low back can push those joints together in a rather aggressive way, as Bob and Brad explain, so it’s generally a good idea to avoid rolling this spot. They do demonstrate ways to roll the mid-back, however, by using gentle leg movements. Plus, they explain exactly how the foam rolling motions affects the spine, even using a skeletal model for demonstration.
Designed to help you improve posture and even prevent pain, this routine targets your mid-back, hip flexors, and hamstrings. Bob and Brad explain exactly how to roll out each muscle, and they share some great humor along the way.
A Doctor of Physical Therapy, Dr. Jen Esquer runs a popular YouTube channel with advice on everything from touching your toes to improving your posture. She’s also part of the Optimal Body Podcast covering physical therapy topics.
dr Jen Esquer and Dr. Domenic Fraboni explains the basics of foam rolling as a form of self-massage, and they dispel some common myths. (You don’t have to roll on a super-hard surface, and rolling shouldn’t cause a lot of 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, particularly when paired with some breathing techniques for relaxation.
Dealing with text neck? dr Esquer explains how to release tension from the back of the neck with a few simple stretches on a foam roller. Add in some quick exercises to fix your posture to further ease some pains.
3. Tone and tighten
A doctor of physical therapy, Jared Beckstrand runs this YouTube channel with plenty of info on alieving pain and muscle stiffness.
dr Beckstrand teaches you how to target your IT band while rolling. 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 shares with patients regularly. With nothing more than a foam roller and a towel, you can stretch out your shoulders, back, and arms—and generally feel more comfortable.
A professional football player, Marcus Rios is also a popular fitness YouTuber with plenty of content to explore. Warmup exercises, drills, and stretching routines all feature Rios’ channel.
Work hip flexors, quads, the IT band, calves, and more in this detailed video. Follow along in real time as Rios goes through this routine. Rios also reminds you to roll at a steady pace without rushing to let the body get the full benefits of recovery.
Plenty of people get a foam roller to use on their legs and back, but it can be a fantastic tool for the upper body as well. Follow along with Rios for a full upper-body stretching routine, which includes plenty of foam roller work in the second half of the video. Even the lats can benefit from a little foam roller attention.
A trail runner and ultramarathoner, professional runner Vlad Ixel offers plenty of inspiring 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 following an intense workout. You’ll get some unique approaches to rolling the calves, Achilles tendon, back, glutes, and more. By hitting the muscle groups used for running, you can get a great recovery with the roller.
If you need some support while hitting the roads, then consider the best running apps for Android and the iPhone. Sometimes a little virtual coaching is all it takes to get you through the next mile.
As Ixel shows, it’s also possible to use a foam roller for strength and stability work. Even simple changes, such as putting one foot on the foam roller while doing squats, can add a little extra dimension to your regular routine.
Take Your Foam Rolling Routine to the Next Level With YouTube Fitness Videos
Some guidance and demonstrations from fitness pros will have you using the roller like never before. Thanks to the best foam rolling videos on YouTube, you’ll be rolling your way to greater recoveries and relaxation in no time.
You can try each of these channels at home and in the gym, so you’ll have plenty of flexibility—both in a technical and literal sense.