Foam Rolling: The What, How And Why

You’ve likely seen people rolling around at the gym pulling all sorts of faces, and this is exactly what we’re chatting about today. Foam rolling, and what it’s all about. It’s an incredibly beneficial technique to use, but you might have tried doing it without much return and wondering what’s the point. So I want to give you all the details, and technique so you can jump onto a roller this evening and feel like a whole new human! 

What does it do? 

The way in which rolling works has proven to be neurophysiological rather than physical. Which in a nutshell means it’s more to do with the nervous system opposed to physically breaking down scar tissue, adhesions etc.

It’s very similar to pain, and how it’s perceived. Pain is a sensory input. When you apply pressure to your body using the roller, you are adding a sensory input which effectively overrides the feeling of pain and tension you might have within certain areas.

And this is the reason you feel better after foam rolling.

What do I need?

It’s really worth having your own foam roller to use after a long day, a heavy session or just when you want to have a roll around. I also talk about a massage ball which is really handy for your glutes, chest and feet. Which we’ll cover shortly. You can get rollers at most local sports shops but you can also find them here and here

How do I do it?

Starting with your calves, place yourself into the foam roller with your weight mostly on it. If it feels really tight, just take a little weight off through your arms. Make sure you’re moving slowly. You can move yourself up and down, also side to side to find all the tight spots. Take around 45-60 seconds, but you might spend longer on areas you know feel tighter than others.

When should I do it?

To keep it realistic, aim to get on a foam roller on your running and workout days. I tend to spend around ten minutes warming up which includes rolling out. I also use it a lot with clients within the strength session, using the technique test – roll – test. Let’s say you’re squatting and it doesn’t feel great, you can roll your glutes and quads and then squat again. This time it should in theory feel better.

However you add it into your week, make sure it’s sustainable. Whilst I’d love you to commit to rolling every day there’s no point doing that for two weeks and then never rolling again, instead start with 1-2 days and gradually build up each month.


Get the massage ball and roll out your feet, this feels so good. You can adjust the pressure by standing on it more, or less and once again just adapt to what feels tighter etc. This is especially good after a long day on your feet. Get your shoes off and start rolling those babies out.


Next we’re hitting the quads, make sure you’re doing one leg at a time. Use your other leg to balance out the weight and allow yourself to move around.


And finally your glutes AKA butt muscles! Most of us spend a lot of time sat on our arse, so get yourself on a ball and roll your glutes out. I use the ball for this as I find it much more effective than the roller, but you can try both and see what works for you. Simply place one butt cheek at a time on the ball/roller, making sure you hit the full surface area.

Rolling glutes


This article is for everyone, we should all be prioritising movement. But it’s especially important for you if you’re running, even just once a week. I’ve seen so many runners who neglect the maintenance side of things and mostly it results in injury and time away from running. Which let’s face it, sucks! So get your diary out, plan when you can get your foam rolling in and make it a weekly commitment. I would also love to hear from you, come and join my Private Facebook group or tag me @oliviafurner on Instagram.    

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