Foam Rolling for Runners
With Mary Jean McKinnon, PTA
WHY FOAM ROLL
One of the most common ways for runners to destress after a very physical workout is to foam roll. Foam rolling relaxes tight muscles, which allows runners to retain a normal range of motion. The slower you roll over the tight muscles the more flexible you become. Foam rolling also reduces post-exercise soreness and improves sports performance.
Here are some foam rolling exercises for different muscle groups that will help runners reach their peak ability:
The hamstring muscle spans from the back of the hip to the knee. Place the foam roll under the back of the legs and use the arms to walk forward and back to relax the hamstrings. Often, the inside of the hamstrings or outside of the hamstrings gets tighter than the rest of the group. To relax the inside or outside of the muscle rotate the legs in or out, then roll out the muscle.
The muscle spans from the sacrum (tail bone) to the outside of the hip. The muscle is at an angle, so place the foam roll diagonally to efficiently roll the muscle. You may also roll out the glute in this position. To work on the glute then adjust the foam roll a bit more perpendicularly and closer towards the top of the hip. As always, stay away from bones including the top of the pelvic bone.
The calf muscles span from the back of the knee to the foot. To relax the muscles, place the foam roll under the lower legs. Use the arms to walk the foam roll forward and back from the knee to the Achilles tendon. Be sure to stay on muscles and away from the tendon. Again, you may rotate the legs in or out to get the inside or outside of the calf muscles.
The quad muscle group spans the front of the thigh. To relax the muscle group place the foam roll under the thigh and use arms to army crawl. Foam roll the muscle from the hips to above the knee cap. Again, you may rotate legs in or out to relax different parts of the muscle. Please avoid the knee cap.
The muscle spans from hip to the knee cap. Typically, this muscle is overused when the glutes aren’t kicking in the way they should. Place the foam roll under the thigh, while the other leg is angled to the side. Army crawl to roll out the muscle. You may rotate the leg in to get a different part of the muscle or rotate onto your side to get the lateral thigh or IT Band.
Mary Jean McKinnon is a physical therapy assistant at OrthoCarolina's Eastover location.