Foam-Rolling 101: Self-Care Guide for Runners

Together in spirit, join our first-ever virtual Pink on Parade 5K on October 11, 2020 as we celebrate the brave individuals in our community battling breast cancer, survivors who have won their fight and those who shine on through their loved ones.

As you begin to prepare for AdventHealth’s Pink on Parade 5K, there are a few tips that you may not be aware that can help you train to run 3.1 miles.
Running a 5K may seem like a recipe for sore muscles, however there are some budget friendly remedies that you can add into your workout regimen. It’s always best to take any new fad in sports with a grain of salt. If something seems too good to be true, it’s often because it is. But foam rolling may be one of the rare exceptions to the rule.

Although scientific research on the practice is still in early stages, the benefits of foam rolling seem to live up to the hype. Foam rolling has been shown to effectively reduce skeletal pain, improve circulation, increase range of motion and improve mobility — all for a very low cost or effort, making it particularly useful for runners. Whether you love marathons, 5K runs or short jogs, foam rolling can help you make the most out of your mileage.

How It Works
Foam rolling is believed to cause self-myofascial release. To understand what this means, let’s breakdown the different components of this phrase.

“Myo” is a prefix that simply means muscle. The second part of the phrase — fascial — refers to fascia, a thin type of connective tissue that encloses, separates and stabilizes structures in the human body, including your muscles. If you’ve ever cooked chicken, you’ve probably noticed a thin, transparent material covering the meat. That’s fascia.

Several layers of fascia wrap around every muscle in the human body. When your fascia is functioning flawlessly, these layers slide by each other with ease, and your muscles feel loose and relaxed. However, injury, inactivity, inflammation and trauma can cause tangles to form in fascia, which can limit your range of motion and cause feelings of stiffness.

Myofascial release helps to smooth bunched up fascia, relieving tightness and allowing your muscles to separate and function better.

Benefits of Foam Rolling
If you’ve ever used a foam roller, you know that, much like a deep tissue or sports massage, it tends to fall into the “hurts so good” category of pain relief. Despite the discomfort it can involve, foam rolling provides a range of benefits, including:

  • Better range of motion as adhesions decrease and fascia becomes more pliable
  • Enhanced circulation from increased blood flow, especially in hard-to-reach extremities
  • Reduced inflammation thanks to increased blood flow delivering more oxygen and nutrients to sore or injured areas
  • Relaxation effects similar to a massage
  • Removal of scar tissue or muscular adhesions from rolling chronically tight or painful areas, causing them to break down

Rolling the Right Way
Foam rolling is a straightforward practice, but it’s easy to do it in a way that can damage your muscles. Following these tips can help ensure you stay safe and get the most out of your rolling session.


  • Focus on calves, hamstrings, quads, hips and glutes —these areas respond best
  • Hit all your target areas — work your way up, from your feet to your glutes, to hit key muscles, rolling the inner, outer and center of each
  • Listen to your body — find the right pressure to loosen your fascia without exacerbating injured areas
  • Roll after runs — rolling can be done anytime, but it’s most effective after a run
  • Spend a short amount of time on each area — roll one to two minutes on each area
  • Target above and below areas of soreness — areas of thick and irritated fascia, also called “trigger points,” are often above or below painful areas


  • Continue to roll if it’s painful — reduce pressure or work around an area if it hurts
  • Roll across tendons, bones and sore areas — work around sore areas instead of directly on them
  • Roll for too long on any one area — if you can’t get an area to loosen up, try two to three short sessions over the day instead of one long session
  • Roll on an injured area — this will increase inflammation rather than reduce it

Whatever your fitness level and wherever you are, we can be together in spirit for our first-ever virtual Pink on Parade 5K. Proceeds from this race include, but are not limited to, early detection screenings, research, wellness and lifestyle resources along with survivorship education programs to support those impacted by breast cancer.

To experience the power of running pink, register today at

Recent Blogs

Ericka Dunlap
Ericka Dunlap Named 2024 Circle of Friends Executive Board and Chair of Golden Gala
Scott J Pollak, MD
Volunteer of the Month | Scott J. Pollak, MD
Heartwise: CardioCare for T1D
A woman researcher using a microscope.
DREAM: Probing the Diabetes Link Post Pancreatitis
Erin Blackburn: A Taekwondo Ninja in the World of Diabetes Care
View More Articles