Foam Rolling for Runners: Do This Routine Every Day to Prevent Injury and Relieve Tight Muscles

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Not sure where to start with foam rolling? Here’s how to get the biggest bang for your buck out of your foam roller. Start today!

I am notorious for avoiding foam rolling. I try to get out of it any way I can. But, as you can imagine, this avoidance leads to nothing good. When I don’t play nice with my foam roller I, and you, can expect the following:

  • Tight, sore, stiff muscles
  • An increased risk for injury that could sideline you
  • General totally unnecessary discomfort throughout the day from angry muscles

When Should You Foam Roll?

I’m guessing you answered as I would’ve with, “Well obviously after a workout.” Not so fast. You might find that it’s more beneficial to foam roll before your workout. I learned this from San Diego personal trainer of JMP Fitness and Performance, Jason Polman, who shared that both pre- and post-workout foam roll sessions can help prepare your body for your workout and help it recover afterwards.

Need a foam roller? Here are some fan favorites. 

How Should You Foam Roll?

Don’t just read this, watch the video from JMP Fitness and Performance below to ensure you’re rolling the right way. The entire routine is below, but I like to customize it to focusing on the foam rolling and specific problem areas. If you want the real benefit, take 10 minutes to do the complete routine. Why not, right?

Foam Rolling Your Calves

Foam Rolling Calves

Step 1: Roll from ankle to knee 5 times on each leg

Step 2: Turn your leg inward to get your inner calf and roll from ankle to knee 5 times on each leg

Foam Rolling Hamstrings

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Step 1: Roll from knee to booty five times on each leg

Step 2: Switch to the outside with your toe out and roll from knee to booty again five times on each leg*

Step 3: Switch to inside of muscle and roll from knee to booty again five times on each leg**

*Make sure you don’t roll too far to your IT band on the side of your leg

**Don’t roll too far here, either, to avoid your abductor muscle

Foam Rolling Your Glutes

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Step 1: Sit on the foam roller (one butt check at a time) and roll ten times on each side from the edge of your glute to the front and back

Step 2: Site on the foam roller (perpendicular) and roll ten times on each side (definitely watch the video for this one)

Rolling Hip Rotators with Tennis Ball

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For this, have a tennis ball at the ready.

Step 1: Placing one glute on it, roll on the band of your behind – you’ll likely notice tightness right away. Do this ten times on each side.

Foam Rolling Your Lower Back

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Step 1: Start with your lower back on the foam roller, hips in the air. Roll from lower back to the middle of your back and back ten times.

Foam Rolling Your Upper Back

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Step 1: Shift your hips up so you’re in the middle of your lower back. Put arms next to your head and bring your arms in.

Step 2: Shift your weight to one side and roll almost up to your neck. Do this five times and then switch to the other side.

Foam Rolling Lats and Shoulders

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Start with your arm pit on the roller, arm out, and roll from armpit to middle of back. Roll ten times on each side using your feet to move your hips if you need to.

Rolling Posterior Side of Shoulder with Tennis Ball

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Step 1: Find your the soft part of your shoulder (again, see the video) and rotate your arm back and forth at a 90-degree angle. Do this ten times on each side. This is by far my least favorite but man, it works.

Foam Rolling Quads

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Step 1: Roll from center part of your quad to the medial five times on each side.

Step 2: Shift weight to medial side (not all way to your abductors) and roll five times on each side.

Step 3: Roll to lateral side (not on IT band) and roll five times on each side.

Foam Rolling Abductors (Inside of Thigh)

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Step 1: Lay the foam roller parallel to your body, bottom leg down, top leg across the foam roller

Step 2: Roll from knee to groin 10 times on each side.

Foam Rolling Your Hip Flexor

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You’ll be on the edge of your foam roller. In plank position (on elbows) roll ten times on each side.

Foam Rolling Your IT Band

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Last but not least! Everyone’s favorite: Foam rolling your IT band. 

Bottom leg straight, hip up on the roller, cross your other leg over the front. Roll from your hip to your knee using your arms. 10 times on each side.

Watch the Full Foam Rolling 2.0 Video From JMP Fitness Here

Our Most Popular Foam Rollers

Now that you know how to foam roll, it might be time to either invest in your first foam roller or update that poor, dusty mess of a foam roller you’ve been neglecting. Here are three of our favorite picks:

Moji MojiHeat Foam Roller 

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$69.99

Shop Now

 Pro-Tec Athletics 6″ x 18″ 

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$19.99

Shop Now

Nike Recovery Foam Roller

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$39.99

Shop Now

Jason recommends foam rolling every day, prior to every workout, particularly for athletes and older people because as tissues start to age, they become shorter and tighter. Do you need to do the whole protocol, nah. Focus on what you need. This routine will help prevent injuries and increase performance. Yay!

Jason M Polman is a certified running, cycling, and strength coach who enjoys riding and running San Diego’s many trails. He’s been in the fitness business for over 10 years and works with runners, cyclists, and triathletes looking to take their training to the next level. Check him out and set up a session at www.jmpfitnessandperformance.com

Author bio: Sam Kerstetter enjoys running and intense boot camp workouts. She’s a fan of taking #photoswhilerunning, spending time in nature with her husband and loving on any and all animals, especially her cat. Her other passions include social media (she’s the social media manager at Road Runner Sports) and content marketing. Follow her on Twitter at @SamKerstetter and Instagram at @shosenka7.

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