Oh yeah I made a thing..
Most runners will have at least heard of the foam roller, or encountered it in a gym. But many of us – myself included – are a little clueless when it comes to actually using it. The same applies to other things beneficial to running, that don’t actually involve running itself – such as dynamic stretching, core work and exercises to target and strengthen the knee.
We’ll look at these areas later on in these series of workouts to target everything-but-the-running. But let’s start with learning the basics of the foam roller.
Why use them at all?
Foam rollers, when used correctly, can release tension and tightness between the muscles and the fascia (which surrounds the muscle or group of muscles). This tension or tightness is usually caused by repetitive moving patterns - so obviously running, but also resistance training or other repetitive sports/actions. Foam rolling as well as dynamic stretching can help improve flexibility and range of movement, and decrease the risk of injury.
The point with foam rolling is to use your body weight – so if an area really hurts, go gentle on it and support some of your weight elsewhere, using your arms. You can add more “weight” as the muscle relaxes. In other words work to your own pain threshold!
Does it work for every sore or tight muscle?
Well, not necessarily. David Oladogba, a personal trainer at Virgin Active is devising these sessions for me. And he is not a proponent of stretching the ITB – the ilotibial band – on the foam roller. Indeed he’s not alone, as this blog shows. He says that stretching is better for this area – and another blog, Breakingmuscle.com concurs and actually suggests it can be counter-productive. But many people – physios and runners amongst them – swear by it so it seems to be a divisive issue in the foam rolling world …
Does it hurt?
Um, I’d be lying if I said no. Sorry. But it’s short term pain for happier muscles and better running and recovery.
The muscles to target
1. Tibialis Anterior
The outside part of your lower leg (frequently associated with shin splints). These are the muscles that pull the toes up – “dorsiflexion” – and are therefore used when walking or running as the foot or ankle is flexed. These muscles also stablise the ankle. Start at the top (near the knee) and work down then up again. Some people do this in more of a kneeling position but as with all foam rolling stretches, you might need to adjust to target the muscle (and not fall over in the process).
2. Calf muscle: soleus
Essentially the soleus is the big muscle in the middle of the calf, the gastrocnemius the lateral muscle, i.e .the one that runs slightly up the side of the calf. So to foam roll both you need to do one pretty much ‘straight’ on the roller and one when you rotate the calf ever so slightly to the side, as below.
3. Calf muscle: gastrocnemius
As above, but slightly inclined inwards so that you are targeting the inner part of the calf.
4. Vastus medialis
The vastus medialis is the inner muscle of the front of your thigh. So basically the best way to target this is to do something akin to a plank on a foam roller (thought this was going to be fun? I do hope not). You can rotate ever so slightly until you feel where the muscle really needs work.
5. Vastus lateralis
This is the large muscle on the side of the thigh. Well, vastus is Latin for “vast” after all and as you are all runners, it’s bound to be well developed, right? So it’s slightly more like foam rolling in a side plank. Sorry.
The poor glutes do a lot of work - or they should - when running. And don’t get much of the credit for it. Treat them to some foam rolling. You’ll see the picture above looks quite similar at first glance to vastus lateralis but the body is rotated up more, so you are really getting into the bottom area.
How to Buy the Right Running Shoe from Runner’s World:
1) STRING IT OUT
Your heel should fit snug, but not tight, says Carl Brandt. “Laced up (but not tied), you should be able to slide your feet out.” Lacing your shoes up through the final eyelet minimizes slippage. There will be some heel movement, but it shouldn’t be uncomfortable. Any irritation you feel in the store, adds Brandt, will be amplified once you hit the road.
2) THE THIRD DIMENSION
A shoe’s upper should feel snug and secure around your instep, explains Brandt. “When people tell me they feel pressure and tightness, they need more space.” If an otherwise great shoe has hot spots or pressure under the laces, try lacing it up a different way (check out Runnersworld.com/lacing for alternative lacing techniques) before moving on to the next shoe.
3) SPREAD OUT A LITTLE
Your foot should be able to move side-to-side in the shoe’s forefoot without crossing over the edge of the insole, says James. You should be able to pinch a quarter inch of upper material along the widest part of your foot. If the shoe is too narrow, you’ll feel the base of your little toe sitting on the edge of the shoe last.
4) WIGGLE ROOM
Feet swell and lengthen over a run, so make sure there’s a thumb’s width of space between your longest toe (which isn’t always the big toe) and the end of a shoe. A friend or shoe fitter can measure this while you stand with your shoes laced up. Your toes should also wiggle freely up and down, explains Super Jock ‘n Jill running store owner Chet James. “Wiggle room protects against front-of-the-foot issues.”
5) CHECK FOR THE BENDS
Check the flex point before you put on the shoe, suggests Carl Brandt, owner of San Diego’s Movin Shoes running stores. You can do this by holding the heel and pressing the tip of the shoe into the floor. The shoe should bend and crease along the same line your foot flexes. An improperly aligned flex point can lead to arch pain or plantar fasciitis, while a lack of flexibility leads to Achilles-tendon or calf strain.
6) STEP ON IT
Knowing your arch type isn’t the whole story. You still need to pinpoint shoes that match your own arch’s contour. You can’t get a good feel by just standing, says James. So take your shoes for a quick jog, either on a store’s treadmill, on the sidewalk, or down a hallway. A natural-feeling support under the arch works for most people, adds James. “Back off the amount of support if you feel your arch cramping.”
To read more Click Here.
I pulled a muscle in the back of my thigh, and it hurts when I walk/run! Anyone got any quick fixes?
Holley Mangold, who will compete in the 2012 Summer Olympics. Girl is MAD STRONG.
At Oakland University in Rochester Hills, Michigan. Come listen to me talk for a really long time. It will be fun I promise.
✓ CrossFit for 34 minutes
27 min rowing to warm up, then five rounds
10x sit ups
10x jumping burpees
10x press ups
10x air squats
Logged on Cody