The following routine, designed by Michelle F. Schwahn, a physical therapist and personal trainer based in Minnesota, relieves muscle tension and pain in just 10 minutes with these simple foam roller exercises. Tack it on to the end of any workout and you’ll start to feel looser right away. Bonus: Because you contract muscles when you hold each position, you’ll also strengthen each area as you stretch. Now, that’s a reason to get rolling!4 Foam Roller Exercises To Relieve Pain In 10 Minutes

What you’ll need: A carpeted space and a foam roller (either 6- by 18-inch or 6- by 36-inch is fine). If you need more help picking out the right roller, read up on these 5 different types of foam rollers (and when to use each one).

Frequency: Do the moves at least 3 times a week to reduce stiffness and tone muscles.

How to do it: Begin each move by lying with a part of your body on top of the foam cylinder, then roll slowly in both directions until you find a tender spot. Hold for 5 to 10 seconds, or until you feel the muscle relax, then continue down the length of the muscle until you find another knot; repeat 3 to 5 times.

Make it easier: Do the moves on your bed for less-intense pressure.

1. Lateral quad massage

Great for: quad tightness, knee pain

How to do it: Place the foam roller on the ground perpendicular to your body, then lay the right side of your thigh on top of it. Keep the right leg straight with your left foot close-to-flat on the floor. Your left hand or forearm will be on the ground to give you extra support and leverage. Next: Rotate your body slightly towards the floor to target the outside muscle of the quad then slowly roll back and forth to massage. Switch to the other leg.

2. Adductor massage

Great for: groin tightness, knee pain

How to do it: Lie with your stomach on the ground with the foam roller parallel besides you. Lift your torso up through your hands. Keep your right leg straight behind you and bend your right leg to about 90 degrees. Lift your right leg and place it on top of the foam roller. Shift your weight back and forth as the foam roller massages the length of your groin. Repeat on the opposite side.

3. Hamstring roll out foam roller exercises

Great for: hamstring tightness, knee and back pain

How to do it: Sit on the floor with your legs straight in front of you. Grab your foam roller and place it underneath your thighs. Place your hands behind you for support. Bend your left knee so that your left foot is flat on the floor. Begin shifting your body forward and back as you move the foam roller from the lower part of your butt to just above the knee. (Never foam roll behind the knee as to avoid irritating the joint.) For a deeper massage you can cross the left leg over the right. Make sure to give the left leg some love after your done loosening up the right.

4. Lat smash

Great for: shoulder pain

How to do it: Lie down on your right side with the foam roller perpendicular to your torso and right beneath your armpit. Extend your right arm so that it’s closer to your ear and let the foam roller sink into the muscle. You can roll backwards and forwards or plant your left foot into the floor and use your left leg to help you move the roller up and down. When you’ve finished, flip over to the other side. Here’s some more tips on how to relieve lat pain.


If you’re having groin pain, check out this article.