A blog by runners. For runners.

Foam rolling exercises

Along with running and weekly yoga, the only other training activity I do with any consistency is foam rolling. It is hands down one of the easiest and efficient tools for any runner. A few months ago, we talked about foam rolling basics. Today, let’s dive deeper into why foam rolling is beneficial and then walk through a few or the more popular foam rolling exercises.

Foam rolling is a great tool for releasing the body’s fascia. We talked a bit about fascia when discussing plantar fasciitis, but here’s a recap:

Fascia is a thin tissue that covers every bone and muscle in the body. If you’re having trouble picturing it I had a yoga teacher once equate it to the thin whitish layer found on a chicken breast. Fascia is usually pliable and stretchy but injury, trauma, inflammation and scarring can cause fascia to become restricted. This restriction can cause pain, soreness or limited range of motion throughout the body.

To help combat fascia injuries and issues massage techniques such as myofascial release can be used. However, not all of us can afford regular massages. This is where the mighty foam roller comes in handy. A foam roller can provide the same type of benefits without the cost and time restrictions you might incur with professional massages.

Now that we know the basic benefits of foam rolling, here are a few exercises to try.

Piriformis
foam-rolling-for-runners-Piriformis

  • Come to seated on the foam roller. It helps to sit on the very edge.
  • Cross the left ankle over the right thigh. Flex the left foot and lean slightly toward the left. You can use your hands on the floor behind you to stabilize the pose.
  • Begin to slowly move the roller back and forth along the muscle.
  • Don’t worry if you feel a bump along the way or a little crunching. I personally, have knots in my piriformis area that roll over in this exercise.
  • Move up and down along this area 5 times then switch legs and repeat.

IT Band
foam-rolling-for-runners-it-band

  • Lay on your side with your left upper leg on the roller and your right leg crossed over your left with your foot on the ground. Your hands will be over the top of the roller to stabilize you.
  • Begin to move up and down the roller from your hip to your knee but don’t cross over the knee.
  • Slow down when you reach areas of tension or soreness. Repeat 5 times then switch legs.

Calves
foam-rolling-for-runners-calves

  • Lay on the floor with the foam roller under your left calf. Cross your right ankle over your left and place your hands on the floor behind you for stability.
  • Slowly lift your hips so only your hands are on the ground and your left leg is on the roller.
  • Move up and down the leg from knee to ankle. Slow down in any places of tension or tightness. Repeat 5 times then switch legs.

These are just a few foam rolling exercises. But we’ll highlight more in the coming weeks. Feel free to share your favorites with us as well.

Written by Lisa Horvath