What areas should I avoid when foam rolling?

You only want to roll on areas of the body that are pretty dense with muscle tissue. Therefore, areas to avoid with the foam roller include the lower back, abdomen, and neck. Females may chose to avoid foam rolling the chest to avoid any potential discomfort of compressing the breast tissue. In addition, individuals that are pregnant or have medical condition(s) will have additional restrictions. You should also avoid any areas of the body that have open wounds, skin lesions (such as eczema), infection, blod clots, or joints with severe rheumatoid arthritis.

Foam rolling (also known as self-myofascial release) is a form of self massage to help relax tight muscles. There are many tools to perform self-myofascial release, but if you’re using a foam roller, it will be important to only target dense areas of muscle tissue such as the calves, hamstrings, quadriceps, and gluteals. Areas to avoid with the foam roller include the abdomen, low-back, chest (for women) and the neck.

Moreover, foam rolling is not for everyone. Individuals with rheumatoid arthritis, advanced diabetes (peripheral neuropathy), phlebitis (infection of superficial veins), osteoporosis, cellulitis (infection of soft tissue), goiter (enlarged thyroid), eczema, or open wounds should avoid foam rolling. In addition, individuals who have a hard time getting up and down from the floor should not perform self-myofascial release with a foam roller and should stick with static stretching from a seated or standing position.

On top what the NASM stated, I would also suggest to be careful with the hip area. You can roll the side of your leg up to about 1 inch before you get to the hipbone. Two reasons, the first there is a boney area there, which can cause some discomfort, and second there is also a bursa sack in the same vicinity. So be careful, and enjoy your rolling!!

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Wendy Batts
When using a foam roll, avoid placing it in the cervical or lumbar spine, aka your neck and low back region. The curvature of the roll is greater than the curvature of these areas and it may push vertebrae around and/or cause damage/irritation to the skin because of how close they are to the surface of your body. Avoid rolling areas that are extremely sensitive to touch which can be common with some skin conditions, varicose/spider veins and skeletal-muscular disorders (or other conditions like osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, cancer, etc). Also, avoid areas that may have reduced sensation in them as with diabetic neuropathy for example. When in doubt check with your healthcare provider if applying pressure to particular areas of the body compromises any health condition you may have or if you are not sure if this technique is right for you.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.