A Physio’s Guide To Foam Rolling The Right Way, Plus Which Type Of Roller To Use

This is how you should be foam rolling.


Wanita Nicol |

In an ideal world, we’d all have a massage therapist on call for all those times when we experience muscle aches and pains. Here in the real world, your personal masseuse is called a foam roller. “I love foam rolling because it’s the closest thing to a massage that we can do ourselves to help relieve tight or sore areas in our muscles,” says physiotherapist Hayley Schuter, owner of in Cape Town.

Choose Your Roller

We tested a bunch of different rollers and found that each of them was good for different things.

Massage Ball

foam roller
Portable enough to keep in your handbag, you can use it on very targeted tight spots. Particularly good for upper back, glutes and under your feet. TriggerPoint Massage Ball, R200

Short Roller

OTG Mini Foam Roller
Great for beginners, it’s spongy and easy to manuever. Pack it in your suitcase to ease travel stiffness. 

Long Roller

GoFit Pro Foam Roller
Effective for rolling the long muscles in your back and legs. Plus you can lie over it to release tension in your spine, chest and neck. 

Textured Roller

Eco Wellness Roller
If you’re new to foam rolling, start with a softer, smooth roller. You can work your way up to firmer rollers and then bumpy ones, like this one. The raised bits really get into those knots – it hurts though! 

Contour Roller

Triigerpoint Contour Foam Roller
The flexible stick means you can bend it around tricky pots like thighs and shoulders; the spaced-out rollers are perfect for targeting long, ropey muscles like those on either side of your spine. 

Massage Stick

Triggerpoint SK Foam Roller
If you’ve ever eyed your rolling pin for muscle relief, use this instead – particularly on your legs and the top of your shoulders. 

High-tech Roller

HyperIceVyper2 Foam Roller
A choice of three vibration settings gives you even deeper muscle activation than regular rolling. 

Roll The Right Way

Do at least 10 slow rolls in each position, says Schuter, and remember to breathe. “It’s important to keep breathing and not hold your breath so you can help circulate fresh oxygen to the muscles you’re rolling,” she says. Ideally you should roll three times a week for maintainance; five times a week to work on a restriction. It’s going to hurt at first, but stick it out – it gets easier.

Glute Release

Quad Release

ITB Release

Upper Back Release

Quadratus Lumborum Release

Plantar Fascia Release

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