Foam Rolling – Should I?

By Tom 0
10 April 2015

For many Runners, common problems tend to occur during running and afterwards that most of us want to try sort out for ourselves. These problems are namely; tight Ilio-tibial band (ITB), tight hip flexors & tight calves. All of which can hinder running and sometimes walking.

Particularly for Runners taking part in trail events where there is a multi-terrain surface, it is important to consider some self-treatment post-race. Foam rollers are a great way to help loosen off all those tight areas and act as a form of self-massage. The percentage of body weight applied onto the foam roller, will alter how deep the treatment is and the effect this has on the tight muscles. Naturally, the harder you press – the more benefit you will get out of it.

foam-rolling-glutesBy foam rolling for just 10 minutes post exercise – you can improve how you feel the next day – reducing the build-up of lactic acid in the body, improving the flexibility and feel ready to go sooner than you might have if you had not foam rolled.

“Foam rolling should be used as a form of recovery – so recover the right way!!”

Foam rolling has no specific age limits and can work for all ages, ability levels and sports. Take the example of this 50 year old woman who partakes in fell running on a regular basis…

“As soon as Cynthia Ferrer took up trail running, at 50 years old, she was hooked. There was just one problem: The energy used to balance on loose terrain and maneuver over rocks and around trees left her muscles sore and tired. “Everything from my tailbone to my hamstrings hurt”, she says. “And I was a lot tighter.” To mitigate the pain, Ferrer began chasing her runs with 15-minute ice baths and took to massaging herself with foam rollers. “Doing those things allows me to recover much faster,” she says. “With that program, I can run five or six days a week, covering 26 to 32 miles over that time.”This shows how you can use foam rolling to improve your performance.” (Cited in

Other ways that you can help yourself recover after a hard run are:

  1. Icing any swollen areas or using ice baths (10 minutes)
  2. Static stretches of ALL the working muscles you have used throughout the exercise – sport dependent (hold for 15 seconds)
  3. Using a tennis ball for small tight areas
  4. Hot baths to soak the tired muscles and relax them

Using the tennis ball – lie directly on the foam roller or tennis ball, moving in small circles to break up tight muscle fibres. The stimulation in the body causes oxygen-rich blood to flow to those areas and helps in breaking down the muscle fibres in the applied area.

Just a note:
Trail runners work every muscle in their legs, but with rising and falling terrain, the vastus medialis obliquus (VMO) take the most severe beating. Located on the inside of your lower thighs, the VMOs are the muscles that prevent your knee from buckling inward. And if you’ve ever done a really hard, long trail run, they’re probably the first muscles to cramp. According the Shadle (2012) laterally hopping from one foot to the next for 30 seconds helps reduce the build-up of lactic acid in these areas.



Myotherapy -(2012) Justine White ““, Accessed on 28.7.2012 Available at: 28.7.2012

Runners World – (2012) Gordy Megroz “,8029,s6-238-511–14419-0,00.html?cm_mmc=Twitter-_-RunnersWorld-_-Content-Training-_-TrailRecoverRight“, Published 25.6.2012 ; Accessed on 28.7.2012 Available at: 28.7.2012

Shadle (2012) cited in “,8029,s6-238-511–14419-0,00.html?cm_mmc=Twitter-_-RunnersWorld-_-Content-Training-_-TrailRecoverRight“, Published 25.6.2012 ; Accessed on 28.7.2012 Available at: 28.7.2012


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author: Tom

Tom has been in the fitness industry for over 8 years. He is qualified in functional movement, Kettlebells, Boxercise, Nutrition and many other qualifications. Tom is also the founder and director of ActivityX. For more information on Tom, see his trainer profile.


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