While flexability used to be my friend back in the old high school cheer days, I can’t say the same for these days. Insert: Foam rolling. I have been a hard core foam roller for several years now, and haven’t really looked back since. Static stretching can only do so much for me and my hamstrings/calves. If you’ve ever been to physical therapy or maybe have seen them hanging out around gyms with the exercise balls, you’ll know exactly what an actual foam roller is. Hopefully you haven’t been injured to find out about this recovery tool, but if you have then you’re all too familiar with it. Foam rollers come in a variety of shapes, sizes AND now textures, but to me I think the basic roller works best for my post-run recovery needs. Mine is nothing fancy and cost about $20 from Target. I think you can find them even cheaper at places like T.J. Maxx or Marshalls!
The one word any athlete never wants to hear is “injured”. I want to avoid anything of the sort as much as I possibly can, and try to keep my foam roll routine as regular as my runs and workouts. Even though some days it doesn’t happen until a little later after I finish, I try my hardest to get it in within 12 hours post-run/workout. Ever heard the saying it “hurts so good”. This most definitely applies to this routine below. If you’ve ever been to that INSANELY sore pain level and then attempt to foam roll or even stretch out those muscles, you kind of cry a little with even the tiniest thought of any extra movement. But, it’s honestly crucial for injury prevention and muscle recovery.
If you’re looking for a quick but efficient post-run/workout foam roll routine, I’ve got you covered with a few of my favorite moves below. These are some simple stretches that will help keep injuries at bay and soreness on the back burner.
Let’s get right to it! I’ve added a quick video at the bottom of this post so you can see these moves in motion!
With each move you’ll want to stay on each muscle group for 1-2 minutes. Then hold onto those extra sore spots/knots and roll them out for 20-30 seconds until they’re loosened up.
1) Hamstring roll
Hamstrings and running go together like peanut butter & jelly. These huge muscles are desperately in need of consistent stretching and flexibility to stay on top of our anti-injury game. Rolling them out is vital to feel your best pounding the pavement day after day. Roll out for 1-2 minutes on each side.
2.) Calf roll
This is where the whole above saying of it “hurts so good” comes into play for me. My calves stay pretty tight most days, so foam rolling them out causes some serious uncomfortable feelings, but pays off afterwards. Some people use frozen tennis balls to stretch out their calves, but the foam roller does the trick for me! Roll out each calf muscle for 1-2 minutes. Again, if you find a knot or extra sore spot–stay on it and roll it out for 20-30 seconds.
3.) Quad roll
Rolling out the quadriceps is just as important as the hamstrings. Both are vital muscle groups that keep our legs turning over and over again, run after run. Roll out each quad for 1-2 minutes.
4.) Glutes + Piriformis roll
Anyone else hold tension here too? I always do and can tell when one side is tighter than the other when I’m really trying to pick up my speed in my workouts. Rolling my glute/pirformis muscle groups out has really helped me and I usually spend 3-4 minutes here just to make sure I get nice and rolled out. Roll out each side for 1-2 minutes. I usually find some tension knots here that I have to really zone in on and work through for 20-30 seconds.
5.) I.T. Band roll
If you’ve ever felt the pain of an I.T. band pull (or more like “pop” in my experience), you KNOW what muscle group this is and how important it is to have flexibility here. Last Summer when I was training for my first full marathon, during a 16-miler I felt the worst pain I’ve ever experienced. It came from my I.T. band and felt like my knee/lower quad snapped in half. I was so tight and wasn’t keeping my stretching/recovery/foam roll routine up very well. So, after I felt that I knew I needed to step up my game ASAP. I started foam rolling after every single run for the rest of my training and it made such a huge difference. In fact, after running 26.2 my legs felt 10,000 times better than after that 16 miler. Rolling out your I.T. bands will help so much and will keep you a much happier runner, trust me! Again, roll out here for 1-2 minutes each side.
Here’s a quick little video to show you each move in motion. It seriously takes me about 5 minutes total to stretch out post-run, which is perfectly quick and still efficient!
I hope you can start using this routine to stay injury-free!
Questions for YOU:
Have you ever foam rolled before?
If you have, how often do you do it?
What’s your favorite way to recover from a hard workout?
Have a fabulous Friday!