By: Shane Barnard from UrbanKick
Many of us have a foam roller somewhere. Neatly tucked away in a closet, propped up in the corner of the bedroom or gathering dust bunnies under the sofa. I challenge you to get it out and sit on it! The foam roller can be your best friend and arguably the most important friend as you hit the pavement or the trails preparing for your next race. I use the foam roller with many of my clients BEFORE and after a workout or a run. Think of it as your way of checking in with your body and warming up and hydrating your muscles and fascia before your workout. I have many clients who walk into the studio feeling pretty great and ready to train or run. But once they are on the roller, they start to identify adhesions or imbalances they were unaware of when they walked in. Here are my top 5 exercises to do on the roller PRE and POST run to get the most out of your training.
- Start with both legs on the roller and your elbows on the floor. Start slowly rolling up and down the muscle tissue, using your arms to stabilize and roll yourself up and down the roller. If you locate a spot that is tender don’t antagonize it by staying for too long. Take a deep breathe and allow your muscle to relax into the roller, then continue rolling up and down.
2. TFL/Lateral Quad
- Your Tensor Fascia Latae is a small muscle near outer hip and one main duty is to stabilize the hip and pelvis. You will need to position to foam roller to the outside of the hip, so rolling one leg at a time may be easier. Roll to your lateral quad and position roller up towards your hip and roll down towards the knee.
- You can sit on the roller and cross one leg over the other. Roll to the glute of the leg that is cross on top. Remember to toll soft tissue and gently roll up and down the glute.
4.Calves (Gastrocnemius & Soleus)
- You can start with both legs on the roller or cross one on top. You can use your hands to gently lift your hips off the floor and roll up and down your calf muscle. You can also keep your hips on the floor and position to roller just below your gastrocnemius, on your soleus and do ankle circles to the right and left.
- Iliotibial Band (Honorable Mention)
- Your IT band attaches at your hip and down at your knee and the IT’s main duty is to stabilize the knee. Rolling the IT band can be vey uncomfortable, and rolling it may not yield many results. The IT band is a pretty thick and strong band of connective tissue and may not be released by techniques such as foam rolling.
Start with one leg and focus on other muscles surrounding the IT such as the TFL and Glutes first.
As a general tip remember you are rolling soft tissue (muscles, fascia, fat, connective tissue etc.), not bones or joints. Don’t roll too quickly or stay on a spot that is tender for too long.