How to Roll Your Calf Muscles
Whether you’re battling post-run soreness or nocturnal calf cramps, there’s nothing quite like the sweet relief of rolling your sore calf muscles.
The Benefits of Foam Rolling
Research proves what we already know. Myofascial therapy through foam rolling:
- reduces intensity of delayed-onset muscle soreness
- increases muscles’ short-term range of motion
- improves subsequent workout performance.
So, what’s the best way to foam roll, to reap the ultimate relief and results?
How to Foam Roll Your Calf Muscles
Here’s a step-by-step guide to properly foam roll your calf muscles, according to Blair B. Kitch, a certified exercise physiologist and owner of Educe Institute in Chicago.
- Sit on the floor with your legs extended and calves on top of a foam roller.
- Place your hands on the floor behind you.
- Raise your hips so that all of your body weight rests in your hands and calves. (If you want to go deeper, roll one calf at a time. Cross the ankle of the leg you’re not rolling on top of the opposite ankle.)
- Roll your calves back and forth on the foam roller, focusing on the “meat” of the muscle. Avoid rolling the back of your ankles or knees. Move slowly, breathe deeply, and notice any areas that feel sore or tight. This will help to increase blood flow to the muscles and relax your fascia for the next step.
- After you’ve identified your trouble spots, go back to work each one individually. Roll back and forth over each area. Take a few moments to apply constant, static pressure. Breathe deeply, and focus on keeping your muscles relaxed. If you hold your breath or tense your muscles, you won’t effectively relieve the soreness.
Note: You can also roll with a roller bar or an acupressure, lacrosse, or tennis ball. The balls are especially user-friendly because they don’t require contorting into odd positions, says Kitch. Place the ball between your hand and one calf, and move your hand back and forth as previously described.
It Takes How Long to Roll Your Calves?
Likely a lot longer than you currently roll your calf muscles. Kitch recommends that you spend a few minutes rolling the length of your calves and then dedicate two minutes to each individual knot.
How Often Should You Roll Your Calves?
There’s no upper limit to how often you can roll your calves. For the best results, consistency is key. Make foam rolling a component of your recovery workouts, and roll out as a warm-up and cooldown, Kitch recommends.
Where to Buy Foam Rollers
You can find countless foam-roller options through online retailers such as Amazon. But if you want to test rollers before you buy, head to a sporting goods store like Dick’s, a local running store, or a yoga boutique.
When looking for rollers, opt for brands and models with positive reviews and generous exchange policies, just in case you decide you want a roller that’s softer, denser, smoother, or nubbier.