7 Best Foam Roller Exercises for Sore and Aching muscles

A “foam roller” is one of the best investments you can make in terms of exercise.

With a foam roller, you can massage away tight knots and improve the health of your muscles. 

Foam rolling has tons of health benefits.

It has been shown to be very helpful in restoring the lost range of motion, preventing injuries. All while speeding recovery. 

To make a long story short, you can roll away aches, sore muscles and strengthen them in less than 10 minutes a day. 

But before we start, here’s how to foam roll

1. You position your muscles across the roller. Apply light pressure using your body weight on the roller as you slowly roll up and down. 

2. Once you identify the areas of more tension or tenderness—stop.

3. Try to maintain compression using your body weight against the roller on the tender area for about 20-30 seconds, or until the tension is released. But do not hold for more than 90 seconds.

Tips: As you roll, take deep and slow breaths to help your muscles relax. 

How often to foam roll?

Before and after a workout is always good. But you can also do it before bed.

Here are 7 “foam roller exercises” to massage aches and pain away, out of your muscles. 

As you can see, the use of a foam roller is very simple.

7 “Foam Roller Exercises”

Scroll down past the infographic to see full instructions on how to foam roll each body part. Plus we also included tips on how to pick the right type of foam roller for you.

How to use a foam roller

Again you’ll spend about 30 seconds on each area—more if you find a sore, tender spot.

And even if you don’t feel any particular tightness, it’s still recommended to spend about 30 seconds on each muscle or area.

As you do the foam rolling exercises, be mindful of your body, head, and spine alignment. If you hit a particularly tight or tender spot, stop rolling and apply direct pressure for 30 seconds or until the pain decreases.

Now, it’s time to grab your foam roller and get rolling! 

1. Calves

  1. Place the foam roller on the ground and sit in front of the roller. Position left leg in the center of the roller just above the ankle.
  2. Place the right leg on top for extra pressure if needed (as shown). Lift body off the ground and slowly roll forward and back along your calf.
  3. Externally rotate your calf slightly to hit the outer muscles. Next, turn your calf in to roll the inner part. Do this for 30 seconds. If the area feels tender, spend more time rolling it. 
  4. Switch to the other side and repeat.

2. Hamstrings

  1. Sit with the foam roller under your right thigh. Place your hands on the floor behind you. Bend your left knee, cross your left ankle over your right ankle.
  2. Supporting your body weight with your hands, roll up and down from the bottom of your hip bone to the top of your knee, just under your right butt cheek.
  3. Once you find the tender spot, hold for 30 seconds or until you feel the tenderness releases.
  4. Switch legs and repeat on the other side.

2. Glutes (Piriformis) 

  1. Sit on the roller and cross your right leg over your left knee. Lean toward the right hip and put your weight on your hands for support.
  2. Slowly roll from underneath the glute to the back of your hip bone, then roll back to the starting position. Continue to roll back and forth for at least 30 seconds. 
  3. Switch to the other side and repeat. 

3. IT-band

The IT-band is a thick band of connective tissue that runs along the outside of a thigh. It begins at the hip and extends to the outer side of the shin bone (tibia) just below the knee joint. The band works with several muscles in the thigh to stabilize the outside of the knee joint.

It’s tender for many people—especially runners—and is a major source for a lot of knee problems.

Lie on your side with your bottom leg straight out. Cross your top leg over your bottom leg.

  1. Place the foam roller just above the bottom knee but on the outside of your thigh. 
  2. Using your bottom elbow, move your body slowly by rolling up and down your outer thigh from below your hip bone to just above your knee.
  3. Once you find a tender spot, hold there for 30 seconds or more until you feel it releases. 
  4. Switch to the other side and repeat.

4. Quads

  1. Lie face down with foam roller under right thigh above the knee.
  2. Using arms and left leg, begin to move the body up and down four to five times, stopping halfway upright thigh or where you feel the most tension.
  3. Pause and hold on any tight or painful areas to work out the tension. Do this for 30 seconds. Repeat on the opposite side.

6. Adductor

Foam roll the muscles of the inner thigh that run from the inner knee up to the groin.

This is one area you don’t often see people foam roll and doing so in a public gym setting may attract curious eyes, but don’t let it hold you back.

This particular foam roller exercise should, in fact, be an important part of your foam rolling routines as an adductor is one area that often gets neglected when maintaining your muscle health.

  1. Facing down on the ground with one leg to the side, place a foam roller under the inside of your other thigh. Come up and balance on your hands and forearms.
  2. Roll the roller along the inside of your thigh from your pelvis to the inside of your knee.
  3. Once you find a tender spot, hold it on the sore spot for 30 seconds. If you need to, you can hold it for longer to release the knot and tenderness.
  4. Switch legs and repeat.

7. Thoracic Spine (Mobility Exercise)

  1. Place your foam roller vertically. Lie on the foam roller face-up and allow your buttocks and head to be supported by the roller. bring your arms to 90 degrees with your hands facing the ceiling.
  2. Gently rest your arms on the ground and hold the stretch for 30 to 60 seconds.
  3. Cross your arms and touch your opposite shoulders with your hands. Slowly rotate (roll) your trunk each side for 30-60 seconds.


There you have it!

7 best and most common foam roller exercises for aches and pain.

Take some time to do some self-massage. Used pre-workout, pre-stretching, or simply to start the day, as I mention foam rolling has serious benefits, including easing muscle soreness, correcting muscle imbalance, increasing range of motion, and preventing.

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