Foam rolling for runners

Ease soreness in your hardest-worked muscles.

Self-myofascial release (SMR) involves using a roller or other tool to apply pressure to the tissues around muscles. While there's no proof that it improves speed, SMR can increase circulation, delivering more oxygen and water to muscles. The result: better range of motion and less soreness.

Perform these four SMR exercises before and/or after every run. They target the muscle groups runners use the most, like the hamstrings, quads, and calves.

Hamstrings Roll
Kneel with left shin on the floor and extend right leg in front of you. Place the end of a foam roller beneath your upper right hamstring, just below the glute, and place your hands on the foam roller on either side of your leg. Roll your upper hamstring just enough so that your foot flexes down, and roll it back again. Continue for 30 to 60 seconds; switch sides and repeat.

Achilles and Calf Roll
Sit with legs extended in front of you, palms flat on the floor. Place the foam roller above your right Achilles tendon, then lift yourself slightly off the ground, resting your left ankle on your right. Slowly roll in one-inch increments from your Achilles to your calf (and vice versa) for 30 to 60 seconds; switch sides and repeat.

Quads Roll
Get on the floor, resting on your forearms, and center a foam roller beneath your right quad, your right leg extended directly behind you. Roll from the bottom of your quad to the top, rotating from the outside of your quad to the inside, in one fluid, circular motion. Roll for 30 to 60 seconds; switch legs and repeat.

Glutes Roll
Sit on top of a foam roller and cross left leg over the right. Lean on the hand of the crossed leg and roll in the area that would make up your back pocket (as shown). Move around until you find a sensitive area. Slowly roll on that area until you feel the sensation diminish, then move to another area. Continue for 1 minute; switch legs and repeat.