How to get the most out of your foam roller

Luke Tyburski

Using a foam roller is a fantastic way to help relieve aches, pains, alongside tightness of the muscles that have just helped you coast along your favourite trail. A vibrating foam roller like a Pulseroll, gives an added massage affect that improves blood flow to the muscles and helps to flush away lactic acid.

As an ultra-endurance athlete myself, here are my top exercises when using a Pulseroll vibrating roller.

Calf

Rolling calves
Rolling calf muscles

These muscles are constantly working whenever we are running (or even walking), and I think most long distance runners will at same stage have tight, painful, and stiff calves. Spending time working on this area can repay you with subtle muscles to keep a bounce in your step along the trails.

Find the sore spots in the backs of your lower limbs, and cross your legs at the ankles so there is a small amount of weight going through your leg on roller. Take deep breaths, and relax your legs into the roller as you breathe out.

This is a great way to loosen off tight muscles in this area, and really pin point the places that need the most work.
* 3-5 minutes each leg, adjusting position every minute.

Hamstrings

Rolling hamstrings
Rolling hamstrings

A big group of muscles, and one we rely on heavily when running. It also helps us run uphill, so if you live near some hills, you may need to pay attention to these.

Place the roller under the middle of the back of your upper leg, turn it onto level 2-3, and using your arms for support, that should be by your side, slowly roll forward and back along the roller. The vibration of a Pulseroll can help will blood flow, and breaking up waste products built up in your muscles from your long runs. This will help you to recover quicker, so you can get back to your favourite trails.

* 3-5 minutes each side, adjusting position every minute.

Gluteus Maximus

Rolling glutes
Rolling glutes

If you have strong “glutes”, then this will help you on your way to becoming a strong runner! In my opinion, this muscle is the most important of all the muscles we use when we run. This is the “power factory” as I sometimes call it, but using it for hours at a time can mean it can become pretty “beaten up” so we need to roll it out consistently. We need the “power factory to be subtle, otherwise having tight glutes could possibly start to affect how your pelvis sits, or even potentially twist and rotate your pelvis area.

Lay on the roller with a straight leg on the of the side you are rolling. Your opposite leg should be bent at the knee, with foot on the floor. 
With the head relaxed, use your hands and foot on the floor to gently slide backwards and forwards over the roller.This will help to relax the muscle, lengthen it, and loosen it off for your next run.

* 3-5 minutes each side, adjusting position every minute.

Quads

Rolling quads
Rolling quads

These are the muscles that runners we use the most. They carry us with each stride, help us up hills, and decelerate us when we are running out of control down hills; and its for these reasons it is important to spend plenty of time looking after them. Made up of four muscles (quad=4) the front of our upper leg can get pretty tight, and sore, so using the unique feature of vibration that Pulseroll products have, is extremely effective in managing this muscle group.

If your quads are very tight or sensitive, simply lay face down with the roller under your leg. Remember to not hold your breath, but rather try to let your entire body have a feeling like you’re sinking into the floor.

* 3-5 minutes each side, adjusting position every minute.

Upper back

Rolling upper back
Rolling upper back

Whether you are running for many hours, sitting at a desk, a car, or spending time on your phone, most people’s upper back posture suffers. The chest becomes tight, and shortened, our upper spine can begin to flex, rather than extend, which may bring on pain.

Using a roller to lengthen out your spine, specifically the thoracic section, has been shown to help with breathing, having a more relaxed diaphragm, and less pain in the upper back region, all things that can help a runner’s performance!

Simply lay on the roller with it around your mid to upper back, relax your head, and try to relax and let your hips & bottom rest on the floor, while you take evenly deep breaths, moving along your upper spine on each vertebrae after 5 deep breaths.

* 3-5 minutes, adjusting position every five breaths.

This post is written by Luke Tyburski, ultra runner and ambassador for Pulseroll. 

Luke is an ultra-runner and coach, and an ambassador for Pulseroll, specialists in vibrating recovery products that help lovers of sport and exercise to stay supple and train day after day. For more information go to www.pulseroll.com