When foam rolling, how long should I stay on a tender spot?

Foam rolling is a great way to relieve muscle tension and help get those painful "knots" out of tight muscles. When using the foam roller hold pressure on any sensitive areas for at least 20-30 seconds, or until you feel the tension lessen and the muscle start to relax. Once this occurs, you can then move on to the next tender area. On particularly sensitive areas you may need to lessen the pressure applied by the foam roller and hold the tender spot for a longer duration - generally up to 90 seconds.

The goal of foam rolling is to reduce tension in the muscles. Foam rolling can be quite uncomfortable, especially on certain areas such as the IT Band, so focus on breathing and trying to relax as much as possible when on tender areas.

Maintain the pressure on the tender spot for at least 30 seconds while trying to relax as much as possible. 30 seconds allows the nervous system enough time to send signals to the muscles to relax and helps break up adhesions (knots) in the muscle.

Mike Elliott
A good rule to follow when foam rolling is to pause over the tender spots until the tenderness has reduced in half or more.  Sometimes this takes just 30 seconds, but at other times it can take 2 minutes or more.  The goal of foam rolling is to get bound up portions of the muscle to relax, so when you feel the tenderness reduce in half, this is an indication that you are meeting your goal and the muscle is relaxing.
Foam rolling is a great way to release those tight muscles.  Rule of thumb is you should hold on those tender areas for about 20-30 seconds.  However this may take a few sets to do this.  You will notice the more you do foam rolling the easier it will get and the less you will get tight.
When foam rolling, you should stay on the tender spot for at least 30 seconds or until you feel less tension in that spot. It may take a few sessions with your roller before the adhesion is totally gone, but the tenderness should begin to go away. Make the self myofascial release a standard part of your warm up to keep all your muscles flexible and knot free.
Roll over the muscle until you feel some tenderness.  Once you have found that tender spot you want to hold it for 20-30 seconds or 75 percent decrease in tension.  Some people feel initial discomfort and quit.  Just know that discomfort is common and will go away within that 20-30 seconds.

It takes at least 20-30 seconds for the muscle that is being released to relax. For very tight muscles, it can take even longer.

If you are not actually feeling the muscle release, and are not getting the effect you were expecting, time yourself to make sure you are actually holding each position for the full 20-30 seconds. It's easy to rush, or to think that we've spent more time than we have. Unless you give your nervous system the amount of time it needs to get the message to the brain and to relax the muscle, you will not be getting the full benefit of this exercise.

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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.