You've probably seen these lying around the gym and maybe you've given one a whirl, only to find that you're not really sure what you're doing.

By Jennifer Cohen
December 30, 2015
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
Credit: Jennifer Cohen

We all love massages, right? In fact, I’d be willing to bet that most of us would be fully content if all we got was gift cards for massages this holiday season. So what if I told you that you could be getting massages every day, for free?

While it’s not quite the same as going and getting pampered—OK, sorry, it's basically nothing like getting pampered. But foam rolling truly can have the same after-effect on your muscles.

A foam roller, when used appropriately, is one of the best ways to cool your muscles down after a workout. The technique (also known as self-myofascial release) can aid recovery and help keep your muscles healthy for the long run.

You’ve probably seen these lying around the gym and maybe you’ve given one a whirl, only to find that you’re not really sure what you’re doing. Plus, it's easy enough to get at those sore calf muscles, but what about those more awkward spots?

Here, I'll go over how to correctly roll the most hard-to-reach yet commonly sore places. These moves can be done before or after a workout, but it’s also a good idea to foam roll on your off days as well to help with recovery. (Basically any time is a good time to do it!)

Roll out each of the following areas for about 15-30 seconds each. Repeat as much as needed.

Inner Thighs

Place the foam roller underneath your left inner thigh and place your right knee on the floor. Roll back and forth so that the foam roller is pressing into your inner thigh. Make sure you roll through the entire length of your inner thigh. Spend about 15-30 seconds here before switching to your right leg.

Outer Thighs

Photo: Jennifer Cohen

Place the foam roller underneath your left outer thigh and cross your right leg in front of your left. Use your arms to help you roll back and forth. This will also allow you to control how much pressure is going into your leg. Roll all the way up to your hip and all the way back down to just above the knee.

If it hurts, that’s okay. As long as you’re breathing normally, you’re not hurting anything. Pain is usually a sign that you need to foam roll because the muscle fascia has built up. (However, if you feel sharp, jabbing pains, consult with a physician.)

Next, roll over so that you’re facing down and continue rolling up and down your leg to ensure you hit your quads (front of your thighs). Repeat on the other side.


Photo: Jennifer Cohen

Place the foam roller underneath your right glute with your hands behind you and your left leg straight out and off the floor. Roll back all the way up until you’re almost at your lower back and then roll forward until you’ve reached the top of your hamstring. You can also turn the foam roller parallel to your leg and roll side-to-side on your glute. Repeat this for 15-30 seconds before switching sides.


Photo: Jennifer Cohen

Place the foam roller underneath your right leg with your hands behind your back. Keep your left leg off the floor if possible. Roll all the way to the top of the hamstring, just below the glute, and then all the way back down until just above the back of your knee. Repeat on the other side.


Photo: Jennifer Cohen

Place the foam roller underneath your left calf. If you can tolerate it, you can roll both calves at the same time, but if that’s too much pressure, keep your right heel on the floor with your hands behind you. Roll all the way up and down your calf muscle and be sure to rotate your leg left and right so that you hit both sides of the calves as well. Repeat on the other side.


Photo: Jen Cohen

You ready for this one? Lie on your right side and place the foam roller just underneath your armpit. Keep your right arm elevated and hold the foam roller with your left arm. Your hips will stay on the floor as you roll up and down along the side of your body. Go up to just below your armpit and all the way down to the bottom of your ribs. Repeat on the other side.

Looking for more ways to stretch out after a workout? Check out The 5 Best Stretches to Finish A Workout (and Stop Soreness!)

Jennifer Cohen is a leading fitness authority, TV personality, entrepreneur, and best-selling author of the new book, Strong is the New Skinny. With her signature, straight-talking approach to wellness, Jennifer was the featured trainer on The CW’s Shedding for the Wedding, mentoring the contestants to lose hundreds of pounds before their big day, and she appears regularly on NBC’s TodayExtraThe Doctors, and Good Morning America. Connect with Jennifer on FacebookTwitterG+, and Pinterest.