The Foam Roll Techniques for Outdoor Junkies

Foam Roll Techniques for Outdoor Junkies

So you’re a run­ner, biker, hiker and snow­boarder. You’re tough, active—and you’re even­tu­ally going to break down. Out­door junkies can ben­e­fit from foam rolling, which brings blood flow and nutri­ents back to stiff, tired mus­cles. Foam rolling the fol­low­ing six spots is ideal to repair the mus­cles that are overused through gait, or com­pressed from heavy packs.

How to Foam Roll
There are many ways to foam roll, but one effec­tive tech­nique is to start at the bot­tom of the mus­cle and slowly move the roll up two inches and down one inch. Con­tinue this process until you make way to the top of the mus­cle and reverse the move­ment down two inches and up one inch until you reach the base. From there you can move toward the other limb or area of the body.

Calf and Soleus
The calves are respon­si­ble for planter flex­ion, which sim­ply increases the angle between the shin and the top of the foot. Thus heel raises or push­ing the foot off the ground over­works the calves. To foam roll, sit on the ground and place one leg on the foam roll, sev­eral inches above the ankle. Cross your other leg on top of the leg on the roll to increase pres­sure. As you start to move, you’ll need to lift your hips off the ground. Thus, keep hands under the shoul­ders as you allow weight to be applied onto the roll.

Ham­strings flex the knee, which is a prime move­ment through var­i­ous out­door sports. Tight ham­strings are also affected from much train­ing on var­i­ous inclined terrain. Sit on the ground and place one leg on the foam roll just above the knee, at the base of the ham­string. To increase inten­sity, cross the oppo­site leg on top of the leg on the roll. Place hands under shoul­der and lift the body off the floor and slowly imple­ment the rolling toward the top of the muscle.

Gluteal Mus­cles

The glutes assist many with hip exten­sion, but acti­vate and turn on in many gait pat­terns. Glutes and the exter­nal rota­tors are often super tight or com­pressed from sit­ting on a bike saddle. To foam roll, sit one cheek on the foam roll with that leg extended. Start at the base of the glute, and place your oppo­site foot on the floor with a bent knee. The hands will be behind the foam roller to keep the upper body in align­ment and start the rolling process. Switch to the oppo­site glute.


The quads are known to extend the knee, which is another prime move­ment through all out­door pursuits. To foam roll, set your­self up in a plank posi­tion with either one or two legs on the foam roll. The roll should be just an inch or two above the knees. Two legs will decrease the inten­sity, which is rec­om­mended for novice foam rollers. As you are on your fore­arms, slowly begin the rolling process and you shift the body and walk your­self for­ward with the arms.

Tho­racic Spine

Com­monly known as the “T-Spine,” this area often gets com­pressed with heavy packs or hump­backed when cycling long dis­tance. It’s a mobile part of the spine that allows for a greater range of rota­tion. This foam roll tech­nique can be com­pleted with one slow, fluid motion rather than the back and forth movement. To foam roll, sit on the floor with bent knees and the roll at the base of the rib cage. Thus, the body may look like a V shape. Slowly, start to prop the hips into a bridg­ing posi­tion as you allow the roll to move upward toward the base of the shoul­ders. Slowly, lower the hips to return to the start posi­tion. Con­tinue this motion.

latsThe Lats

The lats are known to syn­er­gis­ti­cally assist var­i­ous upper limb move­ments and assist in sta­bi­liza­tion as well. This posi­tions maybe the most “painful” for some. To foam roll, lie on your side with the roll near the base of the shoul­der blade or mid-chest. Keep the bot­tom arm and leg extended. With the top leg, place the foot on the floor and start the foam roll process until you reach the upper lat or near underarm.