Sore No More: Foam Rolling Tips for Runners
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Fitness

Sore No More: Foam Rolling Tips for Runners

Call it a runner bummer: "The repetitive motion of running is bound to cause tight spots," says Jordan D. Metzl, MD, a doctor of sports medicine at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City and the author of The Athlete's Book of Home Remedies. Here Dr. Metzl is on call to map out your most ouch-prone areas and help you mend them.

Roll 'Em!

Your best bet to beat aches is a stretch-then-soothe strategy, Dr. Metzl advises: "Before your run, do three minutes of dynamic stretches, including walking lunges, followed by a two-minute light jog." Once you're back home, grab a foam roller -- like the Gold's Gym 18" Foam Roller ($15, walmart.com) -- and slowly iron out your muscles with these moves.

Hips: The muscles around your hip joint, a.k.a. the hip flexors, help you draw your knee up as you stride. They can get inflamed, resulting in a feeling of tightness or even a sharp pain with every step.

Hip Flexors Roll

  • Lie facedown on floor, both thighs atop roller just above knee, torso propped up on forearms.
  • Roll body backward until roller reaches top of thighs; roll back to start. Continue for 60 seconds.

Glutes

Your glutes, which help stabilize your pelvis as you pound the pavement, can tighten up if they are too weak, Dr. Metzl says.

Glutes Roll

  • Sit on floor, right thigh atop foam roller, palms flat near hips. Cross right shin over left thigh and lean torso back slightly.
  • Roll body forward until roller reaches lower back; roll back to start. Continue for 60 seconds. Switch sides; repeat.

Hamstrings

As your foot strikes the ground, your hamstrings contract to counterbalance the forward motion of your body. "Sometimes pushing too hard too soon can cause a strain in them," Dr. Metzl says.

Hamstrings Roll

  • Sit on floor, back of right knee atop roller, palms flat near hips. Cross left ankle over right ankle and lean torso back slightly.
  • Roll body forward until roller reaches glutes; roll back to start. Continue for 60 seconds. Switch sides; repeat.

Calves

The acceleration, or push off, of each stride causes tiny tears and stretching in the muscle fibers in your calves.

Calf Roll

  • Sit on floor with legs extended, right ankle atop roller, palms flat near hips. Cross left ankle over right ankle and lean torso back slightly.
  • Roll body forward until roller reaches back of right knee; roll back to start. Continue for 60 seconds. Switch sides; repeat.

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, June 2012.

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