How to: Foam Roll
If you need a quick refresher on what foam rolling is, check out our previous blog post here.
1) Calves (gastrocnemius and soleus)
Your calves are the muscles that flex the toes away from the body, and they connect at the back of the knee and extend all the way down to the heel. These are one of the most used muscle groups because they assist in walking and standing. This makes calves overactive and tight in most people we see in the studio.
How to Roll your calves:
1. Start with the foam roller around the top of the ankle and roll all the way up until you get to the base of the knee.
2. Roll for 1-2 minutes
3. Rotate the leg internally or externally to hit different parts of the muscle.
2) Quadriceps and Hip Flexors
Quads are a group of four muscles that start around your hip joint and insert around your knee cap, and your hip flexors are muscles that attach from the lumbar spine to the top of your femur and are responsible for pulling your thigh towards your body. Your quads and hip flexors tend to tighten up from sitting all day, especially around the hip joint.
How to Roll your Quads and Hip Flexors:
1) Lay on top of the foam roller with it being just above your knee
2) Push yourself forwards and backwards ensuring that you are applying pressure from your starting point all the way up until you cross your hip joint (it may be easier to do one leg at a time)
3) Roll both internally and externally to hit all portions of the muscle.
Hamstrings are the muscles that run from behind your knee all the way up to your lower back, they cross both your knee joint and your hip joint. They pull your leg towards your butt while also aiding in hip extension. Hamstrings can also become tight from sitting for a long period of time.
How to Roll your Hamstrings:
1) Sit on top of your foam roller
2) Start just above your knee without applying pressure on the joint
3) Push yourself forward rolling all the way up until you hit your butt
4) IT Band
The IT band is a band of fascia that runs from the lateral portion top of the tibia, across the lateral knee joint and up the femur to the tendonous tissue from the TFL and Glute maximus. It helps supply torque from the gluteal and femoral external rotators to allow proper motion of the hip and femur. It often becomes tight in runners and cyclists, which can cause pain and dysfuntion at the hip and knee.
How to Roll your IT band:
1) Place the foam roller on the lateral portion of your hip and lay down on it.
2) Roll from the large bump on your hip (greater trochanter of the femur) up and down the lateral thigh until you reach the top of your knee. Be careful as this group of fascia can be very painful. Only apply light pressure and pressure that you can stand.
The lats (lattisimus dorsi) are the large muscles that originate on the lower thoracic and upper lumbar spine and insert on the shoulder. The lats have a ton of functionality in the shoulder from extension, internal rotation, abduction, to rotation of the spine.
How to Roll your Lats:
1) Place the foam roller horizontally on the floor and lay on it perpendicularly so that the roller is just below your shoulder joint and your lateral hip, trunk, and lateral rib cage are facing the floor.
2) Roll from the starting point all the way down your lateral/posterior rib cage until about your diaphragm
6) Lumbar spine
The lumbar spine includes many muscle groups with many different functions. These muscles can often tighten up due to poor posture, low activity of the gluteal muscles and anterior core stabilizers.
How to Roll your Lumbar Spine:
1) Sit on the foam foam roller so that your body and the foam roller are in the same plane (your body is facing forward and the two ends of the foam roller are on your right and left).
2) Walk your feet forward slowing allowing the foam roller to travel up your lower back until you reach just below your rib cage
3) This one can often be tough and slightly painful, so feel free to put your hands behind you to relieve pressure if needed