3 Common Foam Rolling Mistakes

While there are many recovery tools out there for runners, the foam roller is perhaps the most commonly used. It is typical for runners to feel like they have a deep and personal relationship with their foam roller. Though foam rolling is an excellent habit, there are some common mistakes that people often make with it. Make sure you are not putting yourself in a recovery deficit by following these guidelines. 

Foam rolling an injury

An injured muscle is a damaged muscle. It is usually torn, strained or over stretched. These injuries are often culprits of inflammation. By foam rolling directly over an injured muscles you can increase inflammation and tenderness.

The IT Band is a common mistake. Often folks with ITBS will roll directly over the IT band because they think that is directly causing the pain. In reality they should be rolling the muscles around it that are often the source of irritation.  

Foam rolling for too long or too short

Because foam rolling is a form of self-massage, it should be treated like one. You can foam roll too little, too hard or too long.

Try to target 1-2 minutes per muscle group. In this time, target slow and precise movements and don’t go over the roller too fast.

If you foam roll too long, you risk further irritation.

Foam rolling too hard before a workout or race

Foam rolling lightly before an easy run is a good way to wake up the muscles and prepare for an easy session. However, it is possible to over roll before a hard session. Running fast requires muscle tension, by over rolling, you can reduce needed muscle tension. Feeling too relaxed is not what you want before a hard effort.

Try to target your “deeper” foam rolling sessions after a hard effort rather than before. This can help kick start recovery for the next session.


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My coach, Brandon, has really motivated me to get into shape.  He gave me a simple walking plan and eventually I was jogging!  I was able to work into my busy schedule....and with two kids and working full-time, that is a hard thing to do.  Over time I’ve been able to go longer distances and I am looking forward to doing my first 5K this spring.  Thank You RunningLane!!!!