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Foam Rollers: They Hurt So Good

Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

Foam rollers are an excellent tool for a group fitness class or personal training session, both for resistance training and for myofascial release (aka muscle release). In essence, a foam roller can be used both for a workout (especially for the core), and a self-massage, using your own body weight.

Quick kinesiology lesson

Don’t worry, nothing you can’t handle. The kinetic chain is made up of the:

  • soft tissue system (muscle, tendon, ligament, and fascia)
  • neural system (nerves and CNS)
  • articular system (joints)

All of these parts make up a whole that is interdependent. For example, muscle tightness restricts the range of motion that a joint may be moved (i.e., tight hamstrings can affect hip and lower back mobility). If you’re confused, please refer to this handy chart:

Foam rollers help with tension and release

Odd as it sounds, for a muscle to gain strength, the tissue has to receive enough stress to cause micro-tears. Once that’s occurred, you can help your muscles recover by using the foam roller to break up adhesions in the muscle tissue and/or fascia. When these “trigger points” are decreased, blood flow increases, which is good!

Alexandra: I like to use the foam rollers for myofascial release with my group fitness students every so often, mostly because I always get a laugh out of their moans and groans when they discover their tight iliotibial (IT) bands.

Kymberly: I admit up front that I love foam rollers! Roll, roll, roll in zee … Hey, that really hurts so good. (Insert silent scream here as I roll out my tight hammies and upper back. Did you get the movie reference I just made two sentences ago?)

Different than Operation: Find the Iliotibial Band

My, oh My, oh Myofascial Release

Alexandra:  I was starting to think it was about time to introduce the foam roller to this quarter’s “crop” of university students when I found out about an app called Roll Release Techniques, which has 100 different videos for using the foam roller for self-massage.


My feeling at discovering an app that I could take onto the teaching stage with me was something like this:

Release Me, Baby!


This app packs in 100 videos, more than 25 different muscle groups, and demos that show up to 4 different levels for each group. The creator of the foam roller app, Dr. Ryan Emmons, is the one demonstrating the moves, and it’s simple to use and follow. Tap the muscle you want, then tap the level you want (regression, main, progression or advanced). Simple to follow along; simple to use.

As a fitness instructor who doesn’t use foam rollers enough to know all the possibilities by heart, I found the Roll Release Techniques App super handy. For a fitness enthusiast at home who wants to get some quick myofascial release, it’s also super because there’s no need to know the names or function of any muscles; you can just tap the picture of the muscle you want to work.

Usually I’m a bit snobby particular about the fitness information I’ll purchase and use, but this app totally rocked and rolled; well, it rolled! As you can see by the facial expressions on my students’ faces in these pictures, foam rollers are an effective tool!








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Readers and Rollers: What fitness apps do you use?

FitFluential LLC compensated me for this Campaign. All opinions are my own. Alexandra used her own money to purchase this app because it was totally worth $2.99 to get all the video demos.

Photo credit: Man jumping  kreg.steppe


About Fun and Fit

Get practical exercise advice, your fitness questions answered, and cutting edge health edu-tainment that is accessible and doable from long time fitness experts, Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA. We have taught on land, sea, and airwaves for 3 decades on 4 continents. From writing to speaking, emceeing to hosting a radio show, reviewing products to teaching classes, we believe that little steps turn into big paths. Move a little more than the day before. FitFluential Ambassadors and award-winners both online and off.

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17 Responses to Foam Rollers: They Hurt So Good

  1. Charissa October 28, 2012 at 10:54 pm #

    I’ve just started foam rolling and I am in LOVE! It’s so amazing! Finally knots are halfway coming out…
    Charissa recently posted..Beetiful Blood JuiceMy Profile

  2. Miz October 29, 2012 at 2:15 am #

    I need to get back to rolling—so sayeth my bentback :)

  3. Angela @ Happy Fit Mama October 29, 2012 at 2:28 am #

    Love (but really hate it) and live for my foam roller!
    Angela @ Happy Fit Mama recently posted..Flying LeavesMy Profile

    • AlexandraFunFit October 29, 2012 at 2:34 pm #

      Yeah, when I demo the IT band up on stage, my students laugh because I am the first to admit that I totally make “owwwweeeeeee” noises. Then I laugh and tell them to try it.
      AlexandraFunFit recently posted..I Am Awesome: You Can’t Fake AwesomeMy Profile

  4. Yum Yucky October 29, 2012 at 9:42 am #

    my foam roller has been good to me, but then one of the gremlin-children got stabby with a pencil. It has many holes in it now. Still works, though.
    Yum Yucky recently posted..Freeze Dried Astronaut Ice CreamMy Profile

    • AlexandraFunFit October 29, 2012 at 3:06 pm #

      hahaha. That sounds like what my kids did years ago to all my pool noodles for my aqua classes. Fun for them, not so much for mom!
      AlexandraFunFit recently posted..Diet Cheat Days: Yes or No?My Profile

  5. Amanda @ Run Principessa October 29, 2012 at 10:29 am #

    I love foam rolling, but I’m super curious as to how somebody has come up with hundreds of stretches/rolling techniques for them. Maybe I’m just not creative enough!
    Amanda @ Run Principessa recently posted..It’s Raining on Birthday DayMy Profile

    • AlexandraFunFit October 29, 2012 at 2:36 pm #

      I’m with you Amanda. I already knew about 20, and thought that was about it. So when I heard of the app having 100, I was super curious. But he shows progressions, plus some are seated and some have body position changes. Totally worth it for me, as I can use this every quarter with my students.
      AlexandraFunFit recently posted..Hamstring Stretches: 3 Wrong & 3 Right WaysMy Profile

  6. Jody - Fit at 54 October 29, 2012 at 2:52 pm #

    I Rumble Roll – the Rumble Roller which a foam roller from hell but I LOVE IT!!! I also love my Body Wrench – I use both! :) So needed in my house!!!!!
    Jody – Fit at 54 recently posted..Gratitude Monday & Just Gratitude!My Profile

  7. Tamara October 29, 2012 at 4:13 pm #

    Thanks for a great review! I foam roll occasionally, only because it’s so terribly painful! I have a small travel roller (it’s hollow and holds a small ball for getting into my piriformis and traps) that works very well.
    I’m like you though; don’t do it enough to be able to demonstrate more than 5 or 6 techniques to my clients. Looks like an app that I’ll love (and they’ll hate!)

  8. Katie @ KatieEnPursuit October 29, 2012 at 4:33 pm #

    I honestly think my life changed when I started using a foam roller, it’s amazing! Even just laying on it longways to open shoulders after a day at my desk is bliss!
    Katie @ KatieEnPursuit recently posted..Scenes from a StaycationMy Profile

  9. Carli October 29, 2012 at 6:39 pm #

    I have to admit that I need to use foam rollers more. They really are an important part of the fitness routine.

    I din’t really use a lot of fitness aps. Mostly free 5K trainers and that’s it.
    Carli recently posted..Healthy To Go #GiveawayMy Profile

  10. TriGirl October 30, 2012 at 11:05 pm #

    Yes you’re right and I did foam roll tonight. It still hurt. Funny how you wrote about foam rolling (great minds and all…)
    TriGirl recently posted..This is How I RollMy Profile

  11. Maura December 11, 2012 at 11:09 pm #

    Roll, roll, roll in ze hay! It’s fun!


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