Most runners, cyclists, and gym enthusiasts have a foam roller, but the magic of a ball is often overlooked, especially for the legs. There are some areas that are simply better pin-pointed than given over-all pressure. Enter: Rock Balls.
Rock Tape sent Team HEXT a couple packs of the RockBalls to stay limber and race-ready; so I thought I would share some of my favorite post-workout leg moves to hate.
5 areas, 5 moves, 5 minutes each side to recover like a boss.
Why: When the Piriformis, a small muscle deep within the glutes, locks up, your entire back can lock up. It can occur suddenly and be nearly debilitating. This happened to me two days before a duathlon, so I quickly learned the importance of rolling this bad boy.
Move: Sit with legs bent, setting either rock ball underneath the mid to outside of your glute. The bend is important in order to open the area up and have the ball hitting the piriformis rather than surface level glute muscles. You can easily slide up and down or side to side to work over a general area. Take it deeper by crossing the ankle of the worked side over your opposite knee.
Why: Your hamstrings can handle a LOT of load on them, so foam rolling them together simultaneously doesn’t do a lot of good unless they are absurdly tight. They also help with knee motion and stability, so tight hamstrings can be a factor in some knee pain. Luckily, the ball shouldn’t be unbearable for these big muscles.
Move: Sit on the floor and place Rockball of choice underneath a leg (back of leg), bending the other leg for support and stability. Roll forward and backward along the entire hamstring, right up to the base of your glutes and just above the back of the knee.
Iliotibial Bands (ITs)
Why: Most foam roller owners know the pain of the ITs and are appalled to see this on the list. Yes, it sucks. But if you have outer knee pain when running, it’s probably due to that IT and it’s usually more easily alleviated via pointed pressure on the band to loosen.
Move: Lie on your side, supporting yourself with your opposite forearm and foot. Please Rockball of choice underneath the outer thigh, between the quadriceps and hamstring. Lower your weight as much as possible and slowly roll the ball up and down the band. Very slowly. Super, duper slowly.
Why: When hip flexors tighten (common for running, cycling, plyometric work, etc), it can pull on both the quadriceps and the low back. They are strong and TIGHT, so a big, soft roller won’t do much for them.
Move: Lie in the prone position with one knee bent. On the straight leg, place the Rockball of choice right in the middle of the thigh where the hip joint crease would be. Rock yourself forward and backward, rolling the ball 1/3 the way down your quad and back up to just below the top of your pelvis.
Why: These three muscles make up the outside of your lower legs, wrap and connect down to the feet, and are often forgotten. Keeping them happy can help stabilize your ankles, reduce chances of shin splits, and stave off unknown pains in the feet. Let’s give them some love.
Move: Lie on your side, supporting yourself with your opposite hand and foot. Place the Rockball on the outside of your lower legs, a couple inches above your heel. Roll the ball up and down the leg, rotating your ankle in circles (both ways) to help work into these muscles.