Looking to cure sore muscles? Can’t seem to get the knots out no matter how long or how often you stretch? You’ve tried everything from heat therapy to an ice massage, but you just can’t get rid of that stiffness and pain in your legs? Instead of limping into your doctor’s office, take a run to your local Home Depot and pick yourself up a 4 inch wide piece of PVC pipe (commonly used in large drains and should be located in the plumbing department.) A pre-cut 2 foot section should cost you between 5-7 dollars. If you are really ambitious, get yourself a scrap piece of foam, a couple bags of weather stripping, or 2×4 piece of rug padding for around 3-5 dollars. Wrap and glue/tape the foam around the PVC and – voila – you have yourself a ten dollar roller to cure sore muscles!
Rolling out your muscles can help reduce stiffness and pain, increase your flexibility and help toward injury prevention. A typical foam roller starts out around $25-40 from Amazon, although, you may have trouble getting enough pressure to get those deep knots with one that is too soft. With a harder roller, you can always reduce the amount of pressure by shifting more weight to your hands or opposite leg as you roll. (This will make more sense in the exercises described below.) If you are going to buy a foam roller, be sure to get one with high density or a PVC core so it will keep its shape over time. Something like the TriggerPoint GRID – Revolutionary Foam Roller, is a solid choice.
Once you have your ten dollar roller ready, set yourself aside about ten minutes a day about two to three days per week to perform the following roller exercises. A few things to remember before you begin:
- Roll slowly in a back and forth motion over the muscle or painful area.
- Pay attention to your body – once you locate the knot, spend some extra time there to apply pressure and roll it out.
- When rolling a single leg, turn the foot slightly in or out to reach other parts of the muscle.
- Avoid rolling over bony areas – as this may result in injury.
- For maximum results, combine rolling with stretching exercises.
Roll 1: IT Band Roll – one minute each leg
The IT band runs down the outside of the thigh from about the hip to the knee. Tightness in IT band can lead to joint problems in the knee, back pain and other injury. To roll out the IT band, sit on your side and place the roller under the hip area. Stack your legs and place one or both hands on the floor for support. For additional support, you can also take your top leg and plant it on the floor. Roll down stopping just before the knee joint Roll back up toward the hip, and repeat. Shift your body weight to your hands or planted foot to apply less pressure, or shift your weight down toward your hip to apply more pressure. Roll for 60 seconds, then switch legs.
Roll 2: Hamstring Roll – one minute each leg
Tightness and muscle imbalance that form in the hamstrings can cause pain to your pelvis and back and lead to further injury. Regular rolling of the hamstrings can aid in breaking down this build-up and provide a great post-run massage. To perform, sit your butt on the floor and place the roller under the middle of one thigh. Slowly roll up to the point just below your butt and back down to the spot right before your knee and repeat. You can perform this exercise by rolling both legs simultaneously. However, rolling one leg at a time with a planted foot will place less strain on your shoulders and will allow you to turn your foot in or out to attack other areas of the hamstring.
Roll 3: Quad Roll – one minute each leg
Place the roller just beneath your hip crease under one leg and position yourself on your forearms. Bend your opposite leg in a frog-leg position with your toes touching the floor. Slowly roll forward and do a push-up so that your arms extend, your chest comes up. The roller will down your quad muscle, just be sure to stop above the knee. Continue to lower yourself backward and down to roll back toward your hip and repeat. Apply extra pressure and time to any sore spots or muscle knots until the pain releases and slightly adjust your foot to the left and right to hit other areas of the muscle.
Roll 4: Calf Roll – one minute each leg
If you are in the midst of switching to a barefoot or minimalist running style, you may be placing yourself at an added risk for a calf or achilles injury. The same goes for those who recently added sprints or plyometric exercises into their workouts. Rolling the calves, along with stretching, is a great way to help prevent these types of injuries. You can opt to roll your calves simultaneously, but like the hamstring roll, rolling one leg at a time with a planted foot places less strain on your shoulders and allows you to turn your foot to hit other parts of the muscle. To perform, place the roller just under the lower portion of the calf right above the heel. Slowly roll to the top portion of the calf and stop before the knee. Again, apply added pressure and time to any trigger points or knots.
Roll 5: Adductor Muscle Roll – one minute each leg
The adductor muscles are located on the inside of the thighs and are often neglected in stretching routines. To get to these muscles, lay down in a side-plank position, plant your foot on the floor with your toe pointed out and turn your hips at a slight angle toward the floor. Place the roller under your inner thigh at a perpendicular angle and rotate your hips down onto the roller so they are facing the floor and your leg is pointing out to the side. Distribute your weight with your forearms, slowly roll out toward your extended foot stopping at the upper inner thigh. Slowly roll back to just above the knee, repeat and switch legs.
Mud Run Maniac wants to know what you think! What roller or rolling exercises do you use to cure sore muscles? Any tips that you suggest for injury prevention in your mud run training? Please no spam-mongers. Happy mud run training!