Have you heard of foam rolling and wondered what it was?
Well, it is basically a form of self-massage. If you have knots and tight muscles, foam rolling can help you loosen up. Foam rolling is also an important part of preventing and alleviating injuries, especially overuse injuries.
When muscles get tight, they can cause a chain reaction that leads to improper movement patterns and small muscles taking on work they can’t handle while big muscles remain underactive instead of carrying the load. So if you’ve ever suffered from foot, ankle, knee or hip pain or have tightness or achiness around these areas, you may want to consider foam rolling to help keep your muscles loose and the correct muscles functioning!
Below are 5 Basic Foam Rolling Moves you should do if you’ve ever had foot, knee or hip pain.
With all of these moves, remember to hold on any tight spots and try and breathe and relax as you dig into the muscle. Simply rolling quickly back and forth will not help the muscle release.
1. Foot Foam Rolling
If you’ve suffered from Plantar Fasciitis in the past (or even do currently), this is a must-do Foam Rolling Move. Even if you’re a runner or wear dress shoes all day, you will want to consider adding this move into your daily routine.
To roll out your feet, use a tennis ball, lacrosse ball or golf ball. The smaller and harder the ball, the more you will dig in. Whichever ball you choose to use, place the ball on the ground and step on top of it. Roll it along the length of the bottom of your foot, holding on any tight spots. Try to apply as much weight as you can.
Ease into it though and don’t just stomp on the ball.
2. Calf Foam Rolling
If you’ve ever had foot, ankle or knee pain, you need to roll out your calves. And for any ladies out there that wear heels all day or any runners racking up the miles, this move is even more important as both heels and running create tight calves.
To roll out your calves, you can use a foam roller or a ball. Using a tennis ball, place the ball up on a stack of books or a yoga block and then put one calf on top of the ball. Elevating the ball up off the ground will allow you to dig into the muscle more. Start with the ball at the bottom part of the meat of your calf.
Cross the other leg on top to help apply more pressure. Rock your lower leg very slightly from side-to-side on the ball and then move the ball to another spot on your calf. Work around the entire meaty part of the muscle right up to below the back of your knee. Hold on any tight spots. If you find a super tight spot, make circles with your foot and then flex and drop your foot, tensing and relaxing your calf before you move on. This will help the muscle relax itself and help the knot to release.
3. Quad Foam Rolling
If you’ve ever suffered from knee or hip pain, you need to make sure to roll out your quads. Rolling out your quads and hips will also help you get your glutes activated and working which can help prevent low back pain (as well as hip and knee pain).
To roll out your quad, a foam roller is best. Take the foam roller and lie over it propped up on your forearms like you are about to do a plank. Start with the roller above your knees. To apply more pressure, cross one leg behind the other and focus on one leg at a time. Make sure your core is engaged as you roll to protect your low back.
Begin to rock side to side so that you work toward your inner and outer thighs. Hold on any tight spots and breathe to try and relax as you hold on the knot. Once you’ve held for a breath or two on the tight spot, move the roller up a little higher and repeat the rock side to side. Even work up under your hipbone and out to the side of your hips.
4. Hamstring Foam Rolling
Hamstring strains are a common injury among runners and tight hamstrings can also contribute to knee, hip and even low back pain. Therefore it is very important that you roll out your hamstrings to prevent injury.
To roll out your hamstrings, it is best to sit up on a hard chair, bench or table and use a ball although you can use a roller on the ground. It just won’t allow you to dig in as much or target specific muscles. Using a ball, take the ball and place it at the top of your hamstring right under the bottom of your butt and sit down on the ball on a chair.
Roll the ball from your inner thigh out toward the outside of your leg right under your glute. Hold on any tight spots and even lift and lower your leg to flex and relax the hamstring. This will help the knot release while applying pressure with the ball. Work your way down your hamstring toward the back of your knee. Remember to work over the entire hamstring from your inner thigh to the outside toward your lateral quad muscle and IT Band. Remember to hold on any tight spots.
5. Glute and Hip Foam Rolling
If you have knee, hip or low back pain, you need to roll out all around your hips and glutes. This is a super important move for anyone that sits all day at a desk or cycles a lot as it can also help alleviate Piriformis Syndrome.
To roll out your glutes, place a ball on the ground and then lie on your side with the ball right behind your hip. Prop yourself up on your forearm. Begin to move the ball around behind your hip from the top of your glute (right below your back) to the bottom of your glute. You should also move the ball from outside your hip toward your tailbone.
Hold on any tight spots as you search around your glutes. To dig in more to any knots, lift and lower your bottom leg up and down off the ground. You can also tuck your knee in toward your chest and then straighten your leg back out. Remember to hold on any tight spots. Once you’ve rolled the ball around your glutes, you can even bring it forward under your hipbone and roll out your TFL (right under your hip bone toward the outside of the front of your leg).
For more foam rolling, and even stretching and activation moves, to help you prevent and alleviate foot, knee and hip pain, click here.Cori is the owner of Redefining Strength, a functional training facility in Orange County, California focused on helping each client find their strong. She started training and writing a fitness blog in 2011 because she wanted to empower people through diet and exercise so that they can lead healthier, happier lives.