How to Foam Roll Your Forearms
Written by Nic Bartolotta
Your forearms are involved in every upper body movement. In everyday life, these muscles help you send a text and pick up groceries. If you’re an athlete, you use them to swing clubs & rackets, throw balls, and lift weights.
Despite their importance, they’re one of the most commonly overlooked muscles. Over time, these repetitive movements cause pain, tightness, and tendon injuries.
But with the right foam rolling technique, you can prevent these from happening. And if you’re already struggling with pain or an injury, foam rolling your forearms will help you manage and treat the condition so you can get back to feeling healthy.
This is the Rolflex guide to foam rolling your forearms.
Causes of tight forearm muscles
Tight forearms are typically caused by repetitive elbow & wrist motions or continued, heavy loads applied to the forearm muscles. Over time, these motions & forces can lead to serious, painful conditions.
Chronic pain & injuries caused by tight forearms
Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by a pinched or squeezed median nerve. The median nerve is responsible for much of the sensation and muscle control of the palm side of the hand.
When compressed, the wrist and hand cannot function effectively. Common symptoms of carpal tunnel include loss of dexterity and grip strength, numbness, tingling, and general weakness in the hand and wrist. In severe cases, that pain can radiate up the arm into the elbow and shoulder.
Golfer’s elbow and tennis elbow
Golfer's elbow and tennis elbow are overuse injuries caused by repetitive motions like swinging a golf club and a tennis racket. These painful conditions are caused by repetitive strain on the muscles & tendons that control the wrist, hand, and fingers.
Golfer’s elbow (medial epicondylitis), is an inner elbow injury caused by golfing, throwing a baseball, and weightlifting. Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis), is an outer elbow injury caused by playing tennis, using construction-type hand tools like screwdrivers & shears, and even writing & typing.
Wrist tendonitis is a hand overuse injury, often presenting with pain and stiffness. And the pain is often exacerbated by tight forearm muscles exerting pressure on the damaged tendons.
Many athletes face wrist tendonitis, making it painful to perform push ups, handstands, and certain barbell exercises. Not to mention, wrist pain makes it nearly impossible to shoot a basketball, throw a baseball, or move the hand through the entire range of motion.
So how can foam rolling your forearm muscles treat and even help prevent all of these issues?
Benefits of foam rolling your forearms
Foam rolling reduces pain & soreness, alleviates tight muscles, relieves inflammation, and improves flexibility. It’s great for all of your muscles, but especially your forearms. Foam rolling your forearms on a regular basis will help:
- Reduce chronic forearm tightness and soreness
- Prevent and even treat conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow, and tendonitis in your biceps, triceps, and wrist
- Recover from elbow and wrist sprains
- Increase range of motion in your wrist
- Improve grip strength and reactivity of your fingers, especially your trigger finger
But only if you do it right. This is how to foam roll your forearms with the Rolflex.
How to Foam Roll Your Forearms with the Rolflex
Massage the bottom of your forearm
Adjust the Rolflex handles so that the contoured foam roller rests comfortably on the inside of your forearm, just above the tendons in your wrist. Slowly begin to massage the inner forearm, working the roller into the deep muscle tissue. Do this for at least 30-60 seconds, making note of areas that are more sensitive and tight than others.
These are called trigger points. We’ll get back to these in a minute.
If you’re experiencing wrist pain or tendonitis, avoid foam rolling the area directly. This will aggravate your injury and cause even more pain.
Release trigger points on the inner forearm
After thoroughly massaging the entire inner forearm, place the foam roller directly over one of the trigger points. Without moving the roller, squeeze to apply pressure and move your wrist up and down. As you move your wrist through flexion (palm facing down) and extension (palm facing up), the foam roller will break down the hard myofascial tissue that surrounds the forearm muscle.
Perform 5-10 complete repetition (wrist moves up and down) before moving onto the next trigger point.
This connective tissue is directly responsible for muscle tightness; and as a result, the pain & soreness you’re currently experiencing. This technique of applying pressure with the foam roller during wrist flexion and extension is called active release therapy (ART). It actively breaks down scar tissue, reduces pain, and promotes a natural healing response. And as a side benefit, it enables you to gently stretch damaged tendons in a controlled setting, further aiding the healing process.
Usually performed by a massage therapist, the Rolflex is the only self-massage tool that enables you to perform ART at home or on-the-go, rather than a doctor’s office.
Massage the top of your forearm
Once you’ve released pressure on the inner forearm, flip the Rolflex over so that it rests on top of your forearm. Foam roll the top of your forearm from wrist to elbow, avoiding any aggravated tendons. Do this for 30-60 seconds.
Release trigger points on the outer forearm
Just as with the inner forearm, you’re going to use the Rolflex to perform self-myofascial release on the outer part of your forearm.
Place the foam roller directly over a trigger point and without moving the roller, move your wrist up and down in a controlled motion. Perform 5-10 repetitions of wrist flexion and extension.
Now, on the same trigger point, rotate your wrist to initiate pronation (palm up) and supination (palm down). You won’t fully rotate your forearm 180 degrees, but the point is to massage the muscle in a perpendicular, or transverse, direction. Perform 5-10 reps of both pronation and supination before moving on to the next trigger point.
This entire sequence should take 3-5 minutes. Make sure to repeat this process on both the left and right forearm. Even if you’re only experiencing pain on one side, this foam rolling technique will help prevent future pain & injuries from occurring.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does foam rolling help carpal tunnel?
Foam rolling and light stretching can help improve carpal tunnel by reducing pressure on the median nerve. It’s worth noting that foam rolling and other massage techniques are a long-term solution to treating carpal tunnel syndrome.
Can you foam roll your wrists?
Foam rolling your wrists directly will yield minimal results. To effectively reduce wrist pain and tightness, foam roll your inner & outer forearm.
Does foam rolling damage veins?
No, foam rolling does not damage healthy veins. However, you should avoid foam rolling directly over varicose veins, as the increased pressure may cause them to rupture.