4 Common Foam Rolling Mistakes

4 Common Foam Rolling Mistakes

The pain that you feel in your muscles after a good workout, whether you’ve completed a strength training set or been on a big run is, typically, a good sign. The process of breaking down your muscles allows them to repair even stronger. However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t deal with that pain. That’s where deep tissue foam rollers come in. 


With a foam roller, you’re able to soothe those muscles with ease, getting a head start on the process of recovery while working out all of the knots that can form in your muscle and fascia, the connecting tissue between muscles and joints. It can help loosen them, making sure that you’re not too tight which could leave you prone to injury.


However, when using foam rollers, it’s important to ensure that you’re using good form and proper foam rolling techniques. Otherwise, you can end up doing more harm than good if you’re not careful.

foam rolling forearm

The Importance of Foam Rolling

Role of Myofascial Release

Myofascial release is the primary aim of using a foam roller. The myofascial tissues are those connective tissues that support the muscles throughout your body. When you’re feeling muscle pain, it’s often in these specific myofascial points, which are also known as trigger points.


With the help of a foam roller, you’re supposed to target these myofascial points, massaging and lightly putting pressure on these areas until they release the stiffness that they have built up as a result of exercise. In turn, the muscles loosen, becoming flexible and elastic, as they normally should be.


Foam rolling immediately after exercise can reduce tightness and reduce the risk of injury down the line. On top of that, you’ll experience less muscle soreness, shorter recovery times, and better athletic performance. 

Other Benefits of Foam Rolling

The process of myofascial release mentioned above is, to many, the primary function of foam rolling. But that doesn’t mean that this is the only benefit that it can offer. There are plenty of other benefits to foam rolling. It can be great for relieving sore muscles and reducing the pain and swelling of inflammation. Releasing the tightness in the connective tissues also helps to improve your range of motion, especially when done alongside stretching.


Foam rolling is believed to be a great stress reliever, as well. Getting your body into a more relaxed position after exercise is important, but can also be difficult since you’ve worked up all that tension. Breaking up the tightness in your muscles can allow you to relieve your body’s stress which, in turn, will relieve your mind’s stress.

Common Foam Rolling Mistakes

With an idea of what the aim of foam rolling is and the benefits that it can offer, here we’re going to take a look at some of the most common foam rolling mistakes. If you’re making any of these, then you need to take the time to correct them. Otherwise, not only could you be reducing the effectiveness of using a foam roller, but you could be leaving yourself wide open potential injuries.

Rolling Too Fast

One of the most common mistakes is rolling too fast. This means going over the affected trigger areas too fast with the foam roller and not spending enough time on them. Slow and steady is the key primarily because you want to make sure that you’re putting the necessary time and pressure on the myofascial tissue.


If you’re going too fast, you’re not going to give the tissue the time that it needs to become flexible and pliant, meaning that you’re not going to get the release that you’re aiming for. You don’t want to be rolling back and forth over the area like you’re tackling a piece of dough with a rolling pin.


Slow it down, making sure that you’re sitting on those trigger points for a little more time, and focus on going back and forth steadily over one point until you feel that release and can move on.

Not Spending Enough Time on Each Muscle Group

This mistake is not quite the same as rolling too fast, but it does result in the same kind of error. You need to make sure that you’re dedicating enough time to each of the muscle groups, starting with those in which you can immediately feel the most tightness. 


You want to spend roughly 30 to 90 seconds on each muscle group, taking the time to address every square inch of the muscle, and you want to include some active engagement in between each group as well. If keeping a timer on hand ensures that you’re giving enough time to those muscle groups, then that’s what you need to do.

foam rolling calves

Avoiding Painful Areas

Pain is something to always be wary of when you’re dealing with any fitness and recovery related. You want to make sure that you’re aiding in the recovery of those parts in need of the most attention, but you also have to be mindful of bad pain that could be a sign of an impending injury. However, for the most part, if it feels like regular muscle pain following an exercise, then it’s good to target it. 


What we refer to as “good pain” typically feels like a dull ache. On the other hand, bad pain can feel a lot more like a sharp and strong pain. If there’s a lot of swelling or a painful popping sign, that could be a sign of an injury, such as a pulled muscle


Start by gently applying the necessary pressure on the sore area. If the pain gets a lot worse or sharper, then it might be that bad pain that you need to avoid. If it’s that same dull ache, then you should help start the recovery process with the foam roller.

Using Incorrect Posture 

Foam rolling can take more work and effort than you might think. Applying that pressure can leave you feeling almost as sore as exercise (though the relief is more immediate), and you may well break a sweat during it. As such, you should make sure that you have the correct posture and form while you’re foam rolling, just as much as when you’re working out. Don’t let your form deteriorate, even after you have been working out. Otherwise, your efforts might not be as effective and it could even be an injury risk. 


Don’t let your pelvis drop, don’t let your hips sag, and avoid letting your shoulders fall too heavily when you’re foam rolling on your upper body. A great way to see if you’re maintaining the right form is to record yourself on your phone. If you see your form loosen, you will be able to see it immediately in the playback.

Can You Foam Roll Too Much?

To put it simply: yes, it certainly is possible that you can foam roll too much. The tissue connecting your muscles can experience more harm than good if you’re overdoing foam rolling. In general, you don’t want to be doing it for more than 20 minutes. As mentioned, 60-90 seconds is good for most muscle groups, and if you’re still feeling that tightness or kinks in the affecting area after rolling, then it’s probably an issue that foam rolling is not going to help in the long run, anyway.


In an interview with Volley-pedia, German fitness guru, David highlighted some key points about foam rolling too much, such as how it can be connected to the issue of “unfolding the valves,” putting too much pressure on blood values, which can lead to spidery veins, the numbing nerves, and even loss of some feeling in the extremities.


As mentioned above, the best thing to do is to time yourself, see how long you’re spending on each muscle group, and move on to prevent exacerbating or causing any injuries.


If you want to make sure that you’re getting the best use out of your foam roller, then you should avoid all of the key mistakes mentioned above. Don’t roll too fast over the tissue, and make sure that you spend enough time to encourage myofascial release, while not spending too much time lingering on any given area. Know the difference between muscle soreness and pain that’s an indicator of injury, don’t avoid areas affected by the former, and mind your posture. Lastly, don’t spend too long using the foam roller. It’s a recovery aid, not something that you should be relying on too much.


There are plenty of great instructional videos that can help you improve your foam rolling technique and, as mentioned, videotaping yourself can help you really see where you can improve your own technique. Correct foam rolling can be such a huge help after a long or high intensity exercise, it’s worth ensuring that you do it right.

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.