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Runner’s Series Part 3: How to Use Your Foam Roller

As we are starting out 2016, many are chasing down new goals and resolutions that include increasing exercise and activity levels. You may have signed up for that spring half marathon and are just starting to increase your miles or perhaps are doing a couch to 5K. Either way, it is important to take care of your body and keep your muscles healthy. Foam rolling is an often under-utilized tool that helps keep runners healthy and injury free. I’ve had many patients who have purchased a foam roller in the past, but were never sure how to use it and now it sits collecting dust as a new living room decoration. The good news is that this post will help you learn how to use it to help with the most common problem areas we often see in runners- as always, if something doesn’t feel quite right, check with your physical therapist, healthcare provider and/or trainer to help you with form. Read on to learn more on how to make use of your foam roller and keep your muscles moving well! When should I foam roll? Foam rolling is beneficial both before and after exercise. I recommend spending 5-10 minutes pre and post workout focusing on problem areas. It will help warm up the tissues and get them ready to work before your workout. After your workout, foam rolling will help keep things loose and moving to prevent tight muscles and myofascial adhesions. Should I stretch or foam roll first? Foam roll before stretching, this helps warm up the tissue to allow for greater ease into stretches. Follow the guidelines discussed here for stretching techniques.

What muscles should I focus on?

For runners, I recommend focusing on hips, hamstrings, iliotibial bands and calves for foam rolling as demonstrated in the pictures below. It is a good idea to consult with your physical therapist for an injury screen and assessment prior to beginning a new routine. This can help you identify any areas that may be problematic and tailor an individualized plan in order to prevent injury.



IT Band



​Spend approximately 2 minutes on each area. For those of you who need to take the pressure off of your wrists to perform, use dumbbells to support your upper body as shown in the pictures.


Preventive measures help to keep you healthy, active and injury free. We offer injury screening and stability training for runners at Resilient Physical Therapy and Wellness in Needham, MA- Visit to learn more and schedule your appointment.

-Sarah Herschberger, PT, DPT Sarah is the owner of Resilient Physical Therapy and Wellness in Needham, MA.

​Disclaimer: In accessing this article and its contents you, the reader, understand all information is for educational and marketing purposes and should not replace professional medical advice. You, the reader, take full responsibility for your actions in implementing any of the techniques or advice disseminated within this article.

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