5 Ways to Stretch More Effectively with a Foam Roller

This article was originally published on mypeakchallenge.com on April 29, 2024.  Gretchen is quoted in this article.

Foam rollers look weird, but they can work wonders for sore muscles. Have you ever wondered how to actually use one to feel better?

“Think of foam rolling like getting a massage,” says Gretchen Zelek, owner of Go Gretch in Los Angeles and AFAA-certified group fitness instructor. “It does much more than stretch a muscle. The pressure you apply with the roller improves circulation by promoting blood flow and helps to relax your muscles. That can increase your range of motion, improve flexibility, reduce muscle soreness after working out, and provide better joint movement.”

With that in mind, here are some foam-rolling faves, courtesy of Zelek and certified OLY and ISSA-CPT fitness trainer Samantha Clayton, owner of Samantha Clayton Fitness in Los Angeles.


1. Lat Roll


Young man and woman doing pilates on support roller at modern gym
Getty Images, Alvarez

“Rolling on my lats is my favorite foam roller stretch,” Zelek says. “Sitting for extended amounts of time, especially in front of a computer, can create problems for many parts of your body, from your neck to your hips. Your lats are the largest muscle in your back, so you must roll them.”



• On your right side, place the foam roller under your armpit with your right arm in front and right leg straight behind you and in contact with the floor from your hip to your heel.

• Use your left hand for support on the floor, and bend your left leg with your left foot on the floor behind you.

• Lift your hip slightly off the floor and roll slowly and gently, almost in a rocking motion, from your armpit down your body to about the mid-to-end area of your ribcage.

• If a certain area feels tight, continue to roll that spot for a few seconds.

• After one to two minutes of rolling one side, switch so your left side is down and repeat the sequence.

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Gretchen loves to write about fitness, running, and lifestyle over 50. Gretchen, 63, has been married for 35 years and is a mom to 4 grown children. She enjoys volunteering for charities in the Los Angeles area, loves running, and never misses her daily zoom corebarrefit class.

About Gretchen