3 Best Foam Roller Exercises for Runners
When you’re training for a race, there’s a lot more to it than running the miles. How you take care of your body, both before and after you run, are just as important to achieving success as a runner.
Heavy mileage leads to sore and tight muscles, so we spoke to physical therapist and three-time Ironman finisher Marisa Rose to reveal the best foam roller exercises for runners.
From treating common running injuries to building core strength, Rose has been a foam-rolling advocate for decades.
“I have been using the roller with clients for 20 years, and I always get excellent results!” she says.
If you’re new to foam rolling, you might be overwhelmed by the different types of rollers available, from soft and squishy to firm and bumpy.
“Start with soft foam and move on to harder foam or a textured roller,” she says. “Increase as you need more response and get accustomed to the movements.”
Even if you feel like you’re floating through your run in your Floatride shoes, don’t forget to give your muscles a little TLC. Check out Rose’s favorite foam roller exercises here:
1. IT Band 3-Way
Put your hands on the floor to stabilize yourself and roll one leg on the foam roller back and forth. Roll along the middle of the thigh to target the quadriceps muscle, the side of the leg to target the IT band, and the back of the thigh to target the hamstring muscle.
“The IT band 3-way movement helps with IT band syndrome and patellofemoral syndrome, two of the most common running injuries,” says Rose. “It also encourages core engagement and shoulder stability.”
Some runners are predisposed to soreness in all three areas, while others experience tightness or pain in isolated parts of the leg.
“Roll the whole knee-to-hip spectrum, but for sore spots go back and target those with smaller, focused rolls,” says Rose.
2. Foam Roller Bridge
Lay on your back with bent knees and both feet resting on the foam roller. Raise pelvis to create a straight line from your knees to your shoulders on the ground and then lower back to the floor. Repeat multiple times, focusing on engaging your glutes, hamstrings and core.
“Foam roller bridges strengthen your glutes and core, which improves stabilization, posture and balance,” she says.
For an additional challenge, try crossing one leg over the other in a figure four shape, as shown below:
3. Thoracic Spine Release
Lay on your back with the foam roller situated vertically along the length of your spine. Let your body relax, softening the chest and joints of the spine toward the ground.
This spine release is especially good for runners who work in offices and sit at a desk for the majority of the day.
“This movement encourages proper posture and opening of the chest and lungs for better breathing and oxygen capacity,” says Rose. “It also negates sitting posture from working conditions.”
The next time you’re putting in heavy mileage for your upcoming race, remember to treat yourself to some foam rolling to recover faster and train harder.
What foam roller moves help you recover from long runs? Let us know by tweeting @Reebok!