Here is a quick video demonstrating the sequence I use to roll out my legs.
You can’t add this into your post-workout routine too much – it’s great combined with stretching or on its own.
The roller is a versatile tool that will help you get more out of your workouts through increasing your flexibility and decreasing the soreness that occurs after tough exercise bouts.
It smooths out and lengthens your underlying connective tissue that surrounds your muscles – your fascia – and if you have one – or have access to one it’s a great tool to use regularly.
When using it, remember to stay aligned, keeping your body straight in a plank position either on your hands or forearms. Stabilize with your other foot and hands.
Always relax the limb or muscle you’re applying pressure to. You don’t want pressure on a contracted muscle, it’s just painful and also decreases the amount of release that’s possible. If you find an especially tight or sore area, hang out on it until it’s more tolerable to continue rolling.
(this video was before I was very comfortable behind the camera 🙂 you’ll see I don’t smile as much as you’re used to if you watch my workout videos! practice makes better lol)
This sequence is the one I use for my lower body on a regular basis.
There are many other ways it can be used. This particular sequence goes through: ITB’s, hamstrings, glutes then repeat on opposite leg; calves together (you can roll them individually when that gets easy by throwing the other leg on top, as shown); side of lower leg – muscles called the peroneals; tibialis anterior – shin area; inner thighs or adductors; quads; and last the TFL which is between your ITB and quad at the top of your leg just below your pelvis.
You can also find them at many local sporting goods stores, your PT’s office or see if your gym has one you can use.
I also love yoga, as it is a dynamic movement practice that stretches us, strengthens our balance and awareness and also helps us breathe more deeply and effectively.
If you can get to a yoga class or youtube some yoga videos – even doing one or two short sessions a week can really help you lengthen and support your exercise plan.
After your workouts, doing some dynamic joint movements like arm circles, hip circles and standing and swinging your legs back and forth – even simply rotating your torso side to side and rolling your head and neck in circles will feel awesome.
Here’s a few other suggestions:
- Reach your arms up to the sky, bend yourself forward, reach for your left foot, then your right.
- Crouch down on your toes and hug your knees, tucking your head.
- Come forward onto your knees, drop your butt back toward your heels and reach your arms out in front of you and putting your chest down to the ground.
- Come into a seated position and put the soles of your feet together.
Static stretches (like simple quad, hamstring, calf and inner thigh stretches will also feel good – and are good on the warm muscles you’ll have after the workout.
How long should you hold a stretch?
What I would recommend for length to hold a stretch isn’t a specific time. I actually like to think of it on a number scale.
If a 7 on the 1-10 scale is a “good hurt” and 8 is “Ow” and 5-6 feels great, take your stretch to your 7. Then hold it and breath til it goes down to about a 5 or 6.
Hope that gives you some ideas, and I really encourage you to get a foam roller. They’re not expensive and can be an amazing tool.