10 Best Leg Roller Techniques for Runners | Foam Rolling for Runners
If you are a runner, sore and tight legs are common! Don’t let stiff legs or injuries keep you from training, we’re sharing the 10 best leg roller techniques!
Quick tip: some soreness in your legs is extremely normal. Don’t be alarmed! Depending on how new you are to using a leg roller, expect this soreness to last throughout your first few rolling sessions. But believe us, it’ll be worth the temporary pain!
10 Best Leg Roller Techniques for Runners
1. Calf Roll
For the calf roll, you’re going to want to sit on your glutes with one leg extended and one knee bent. Place the foam roller one to two inches from your heel.
Now, gently move back (away from the leg roller, toward your knee) so that the roller engages with your calf muscles. Next, switch sides and stretch your other side. You should feel some soreness deep within your calves. We suggest completing several reps, then rolling your feet and ankle.
Why you should do it: Aside from perhaps your knees, your calves are going to be taking most of the impact when running, which means it’s particularly important to take care of them. This is perhaps the most important stretch you can do, particularly if you regularly engage in long distance running. We recommend the Idson Muscle Roller Stick, as it’s durable enough that it won’t break on you but cheap enough that it won’t break your budget.
2. Groin Roll
Lie on the floor face down and put your weight on either your forearms or your hands in a push-up position. Place one leg out and one leg back. Put the leg roller beneath your outstretched leg just beneath your inner thigh.
Now, gently lean forward. Once you find a comfortable position, you’re going to want to hold it for roughly 15-20 seconds depending on your comfort level and flexibility. Next, switch sides and stretch your other side.
Why you should do it: A well-stretched groin muscle will help you achieve a longer, deeper stride. For the best results, we suggest doing this particular stretch both before and after a run.
3. IT Band Roll
This is a move that can get a bit tricky depending on your level of balance. You’re going to want to place the roller directly beneath one of your hips. Cross your opposite leg over your hip, and slowly roll back and forth while using your arm and hand for support. After five to eight slow reps, switch sides and stretch the opposite iliotibial band.
Why you should do it: If you’re not familiar, the iliotibial (or IT) band connects your knee to the outside of your thigh. Unfortunately, iliotibial band syndrome is one of the most common issues runners face.
It occurs from overuse and hyperextension from repetitive movement, so properly stretching your IT band isn’t just suggested — it’s necessary if you plan on running on a regular basis. Marathon runners are particularly vulnerable to ITBS, so be sure to evaluate your stretching technique before attempting longer runs.
4. Hamstring Roll
Like the IT Band Roll, the Hamstring Roll will require a bit of upper body strength, but there’s no need to be intimidated! Place the foam roller (we suggest something larger, like the j/fit High-Density EVA Roller) under your knees and push your glutes up using your arms.
Now, roll the leg roller up and down your upper leg and thighs. Move your legs slightly from left to right. This will result in a deeper stretch.
Why you should do it: If you’re reading this, odds are you’re already aware of the benefits that come from properly stretching your hamstrings. Rolling your hamstrings loosens them, decreasing the likelihood of injury.
5. Quadricep Roll
For the Quadricep Roll, you’ll once again want to lie on the floor in a plank position, similar to that of a push-up. This stretch is essentially an inverse of the Hamstring Roll, so you’ll be placing the leg roller on top of your thighs.
Roll from your knee to your lower hip so you’ll get a great stretch along your entire quad section. Roll back and forth gently several times, remaining at the top of your knee and bottom of your hip respectively
Why you should do it: Your quads help with hip extension, so a properly stretched quadricep provides more flexibility and even increased energy.
6. Glute Roll
Place your glutes on top of your leg roller and roll back and forth. Simple enough, right?
Why you should do it: Believe it or not, there are actually a lot of benefits to stretching and properly maintaining your glutes. Benefits include fat loss, increased speed and endurance, and even better bone density.
7. Outer Thigh Roll
The Outer Thigh Roll complements the IT Band Roll perfectly. In fact, the two stretches are remarkably similar, except you’ll want to really focus on your hip area.
Why you should do it: The thighs are a sensitive area, even for the most toned of runners. But stretching your thighs can give you those sleek, muscular thighs you’ve always wanted.
8. Adductor Roll
Lie on the floor with your legs outstretched in a Y-position, using your hands for support. Now, place the leg roller by your inner thigh, and roll it up to your groin area. You should feel a great stretch in your inner groin/pelvis.
Why you should do it: Your adductors rarely get the attention they deserve. Properly stretched adductor muscles decrease the likelihood of groin pulls, an injury that can sideline you for quite some time.
9. Shin Roll
Start out on your knees, and place the foam roller directly beneath your kneecap. Now roll up and down your entire shin in a slow, gentle glide. Roll for about two minutes, then switch legs.
Why you should do it: Shin splints can be flat-out excruciating, but they’re mostly avoidable, particularly if you keep up with Shin Rolls. Make sure you both start and end your workout with this stretch.
10. Foot Roll
We bet you didn’t think you’d need to work out your feet themselves, but it’s highly recommended that you stretch your feet before running. You’ll want to stand near a wall for balance, so once you’ve found a good balance, stand on top of your foam roller.
Now rock back and forth from your toes to your heel. Replicate this motion at least half a dozen times.
Why you should do it: Though we’ve focused mainly on leg rolls, you can’t forget about the most essential aspect of running — your feet. Thankfully, you won’t need any special type of leg roller, either. Any kind of leg roller should suffice, just make sure it’s wide enough to stand on.