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  • Writer's pictureLucinda Strachan

The Foam Roller

If you walk in to the studio of any classical ballet company at 9:30am you will most likely see 30 cups of coffee, 30 pairs of aching feet and 30 foam rollers!

While Attending a 30 minute massage every morning still remains the dream, it hardly seems a practical. Therefore dancers have found a way to replicate the same benefits of a fascial sports massage without the price tag.

But how does this work?

All the muscles in your body are connected by something called Fascia (Fash’e-ah). It may sound like a delicious Eastern European dip but its actually very important.

Fascia surrounds tissue, nerves, organs and all other structures in the body, almost like a huge web. Foam rolling is a form of myofascial release – ‘myo’ referring to muscle and ‘fascia’ being the connective tissue.

Just two minutes of self-myofascial release increases your muscles’ range of motion by 10% according to a study published in the Journal Of Strength And Conditioning Research.

Coachmag - May, 2018

.Applying pressure to trigger points, or 'knots', boosts blood flow and helps muscles recover their elasticity quickly, meaning they perform better. Great when you have another rehearsal or performance to get to.

While giving yourself a massage might sound immeasurably less fun than lying down and letting a pro do it, the self-control offered by foam rolling allows you to vary pressure and concentrate on specific areas of tightness.


Muscles and fascia carrying a high level of tension don’t always take kindly to foam rolling. Be warned it won't feel ‘nice’. But good news, the more often you smooth out the knots, the less it hurts!

Rollers range in size and strength depending on what you are looking to achieve. Softer foam rollers provide a less painful massage whereas the firmer models will trigger deep knots and - I apologize for this - HURT ALOT MORE!!!

Below I will explain how to use a foam roller to target these 5 key areas.

1. Quads

2. IT Band

3. Back

4. Hamstrings

5. Inner Thighs (Adductors)

1. Quads

Lie on your front, resting on your elbows with both thighs on the roller. You can also do this on one leg if you're feeling brave. simply cross your legs so all your bodyweight is on one leg for a more intense pressure. Use your elbows to move your body forward and backward, rolling from just above your kneecap to just below your pelvis. I recommend you do this in two portions. upper and lower. focusing on a smaller area at a time will help you concentrate deep in the muscle.

2. IT Band

The iliotibial band (ITB) runs from your glutes down the outside of your thigh to your knee. Lie on your side, supporting your weight on one elbow. Roll from just above your knee to the top of your leg, using your other leg to take some of your weight if you need to reduce the pressure. 

3. Back

Place the roller at a horizontal angle behind your back and while placing your arms behind your head, lie back onto the roller. Usually I crack my back along the roller here but please take care to only do this if you are in good health and don't have any back problems. Next gently roll up and down the top portion of your spine, angling as you feel you need to to target all of your tight areas. Then you can go on and move on to the lower portion of your back. curve you spine to reach this area or you can put your hands down. I usually don't roll my lower back that much to be fair.

4. Hamstrings

Sit with your hands on the floor supporting your weight and the backs of your legs resting on the roller. Start just above the knees and roll up to the top of your legs. Begin by rolling both legs, then cross your legs to target one at a time. You can also go up into your glutes for this if you feel if helps.

5. Inner Thighs

Lie on your front, resting on your elbows with the inside of one thigh on the roller and the other leg on the floor to support some of your weight. Roll from just above the knee up to the area between your groin and hip.

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