Runners: How To Use A Foam Roller

Most runners will have seen and probably used a foam roller to help with aches and pains. It took me a little while to learn how to use mine more effectively to really help released some of the tightness in my legs. This handy guide from the Guardian running blog is worth a read for tips on using yours correctly. 

How to use a foam roller from the Guardian Running Blog.

1. Tibialis Anterior The outside part of your lower leg (frequently associated with shin splints). These are the muscles that pull the toes up – “dorsiflexion” – and are therefore used when walking or running as the foot or ankle is flexed. These muscles also stablise the ankle. Start at the top (near the knee) and work down then up again. Some people do this in more of a kneeling position but as with all foam rolling stretches, you might need to adjust to target the muscle (and not fall over in the process).

2. Calf muscle: soleus Essentially the soleus is the big muscle in the middle of the calf, the gastrocnemius the lateral muscle, i.e .the one that runs slightly up the side of the calf. So to foam roll both you need to do one pretty much ‘straight’ on the roller and one when you rotate the calf ever so slightly to the side, as below.

3. Calf muscle: gastrocnemius As above, but slightly inclined inwards so that you are targeting the inner part of the calf.

4. Vastus medialis The vastus medialis is the inner muscle of the front of your thigh. So basically the best way to target this is to do something akin to a plank on a foam roller (thought this was going to be fun? I do hope not). You can rotate ever so slightly until you feel where the muscle really needs work.

5. Vastus lateralis This is the large muscle on the side of the thigh. Well, vastus is Latin for “vast” after all and as you are all runners, it’s bound to be well developed, right? So it’s slightly more like foam rolling in a side plank. Sorry.

6. Gluteus The poor glutes do a lot of work – or they should – when running. And don’t get much of the credit for it. Treat them to some foam rolling. You’ll see the picture above looks quite similar at first glance to vastus lateralis but the body is rotated up more, so you are really getting into the bottom area.

For the original, full article visit the Guardian Running Blog.

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