Post Run Foam Rolling & Stretching
Foam Rolling and stretching post-run is KEY to preventing injury, review my post-run recovery session below to keep your legs ready a raring to go for your next workout.
First off, foam rolling improves circulation which aids in recovery and warms the body for a post-run stretch. It is recommended to foam roll prior to stretching. When foam rolling, ensure you are rolling over targeted areas slowly to break up adhesions and scar tissue, which aids in speeding up the recovery process.
Personal Tip: Make sure you are foam rolling slowly, to get the maximum benefit. When you find a tender area, focus in on it and roll over it, slowly until you feel it soften and release. Roll from least to most tense muscle and from the origin of the muscle to the insertion.
Common areas to foam roll post-run, can be seen below and include: quads, hamstrings, calves, and glutes. It is not recommended to roll out your IT band, it is a ligament and does not stretch - for any IT issues, focus on rolling the other large muscles that surround your knee, your quads, hamstrings, and work to strengthen everything in the musculoskeletal chain.
Foam Rolling Timing: Work up to about 30 seconds rolling over problem areas or tender spots and 30 sec to a minute rolling over the length of the muscle, dynamically. You can even keep the foam roller in the same place as you roll over it from side to side and up and down - to hit all parts of the muscle belly. Make sure to go slowly. It should “hurt-so-good” but not cause any major or sustained pain.
- Hamstrings: Start seated and place the foam roller under your thighs. Use your hands to lift your hips and place your right leg over left (for added pressure) and roll slowly from above the knee to the base of your glutes. Target problem areas, and spend time slowly rolling over tender spots. Repeat on the other side, ending with rolling both legs (minimal pressure for a final flush.
- Adductors: Lie face down. Place foam roller, vertically along your inner thigh. Get up on your elbows, and roll back and forth slowly - targeting any problem areas. Roll from roughly your knee to hip and repeat on the other side.
- Calves: Start seated on the floor, with your legs extended. Place left calf on the foam roller and cross your right foot over (for added pressure) and press up on your hands to get your hips off of the ground. Roll slowly from above the ankle to your knee - rotating your leg from left to right to cover the entire calf, while spending quality time on your problem areas. Repeat on the other side.
- Quads: Lie facedown on your forearms and use them to roll back and forth and up and down, slowly, focusing on your tender spots and prioritizing more time spent on those areas. Rolling from hip to above the knee. Lift legs individually to add additional pressure and repeat on both sides.
- Tibialis: Place both legs on the top of the roller, not directly on the shin - but focused on the tibialis, the large muscle to the left and right of your shin per leg and roll slowly from side to side and up and down to loosen up any adhesions. Rolling from above the ankle to below the knee.
- Glutes: The largest muscle in the body, also needs attention. Roll both sides simultaneously, slowly zoning in on problem areas and switching to one side for more pressure as needed.
Stretching: To get the maximum benefit from stretching try and hold the positions below (on each side) for at least 30 seconds especially for tight muscles. Review the videos below for post-run stretching inspiration.
If you can’t do it every night, like many of us, try twice a week to start with the goal of making it a few nights a week long term. The whole session can take 20-30 min depending on the amount of time you are holding each position as well as if you are moving through some of the stretches multiple times. It's a great thing to squeeze in as some self-care you time or even while watching your favorite Netflix show!
Stay healthy and stay safe!