How to Foam Roll Your Forearms

PT showing how to foam roll your forearms

Written by Nic Bartolotta

Nic Bartolotta is a physical therapist and holistic health practitioner. He holds a Master of Physical Therapy (MPT) degree from Cal State University - Long Beach and has worked with hundreds of professional athletes from the MLB, NFL, NBA, and NHL. Nic is known for his expertise in injury prevention, rehabilitation, and sports performance enhancement. He specializes in myofascial release techniques to address soft tissue restrictions. He is also the Chief Clinical Officer of Rolflex.

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 correct foam rolling technique, you can prevent these from happening. And suppose you're already struggling with pain or an injury. In that case, foam rolling your forearms will help you manage and treat the condition so that you can return 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 severe, painful conditions. 

Chronic pain & injuries caused by tight forearms

Carpal tunnel

A pinched or squeezed median nerve causes carpal tunnel syndrome. 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. That pain can radiate up the arm into the elbow and shoulder in severe cases. 

Golfer's elbow and tennis elbow

Golfers' and tennis elbows are overuse injuries caused by repetitive motions like swinging a golf club or a tennis racket. These painful conditions are caused by repetitive strain on the muscles and 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

Wrist tendonitis is a hand overuse injury that often presents with pain and stiffness. The pain is usually exacerbated by tight forearm muscles exerting pressure on the damaged tendons. 

Many athletes suffer from wrist tendonitis, making it painful to perform push-ups, handstands, and barbell exercises. Wrist pain also 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 regularly 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 bicep, tricep, and wrist.
  • Recover from elbow and wrist sprains.
  • Increase the 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. Our resident Physical Therapist, Dr. Nic Bartolotta, will walk you through foam rolling 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 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. 

Avoid foam rolling the area directly if you're experiencing wrist pain or tendonitis. This will aggravate your injury and cause even more pain. 

Release trigger points on the inner forearm

After thoroughly massaging the 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. Moving your wrist through flexion (palm facing down) and extension (palm facing up), the foam roller will break down the hard myofascial tissue surrounding the forearm muscle. 

Perform 5-10 repetitions (wrist moves up and down) before moving on to 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. As a side benefit, it lets you 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 in a doctor's office. 

Massage the top of your forearm.

Once you've released pressure on the inner forearm, flip the Rolflex over to rest 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'll use the Rolflex to perform self-myofascial release on the outer part of your forearm. 

Place the foam roller directly over a trigger point. 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. Still, the point is to massage the muscle in a perpendicular or transverse direction. Perform 5-10 reps of 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, it would be best to avoid foam rolling directly over varicose veins, as the increased pressure may cause them to rupture.