foam roller exercises for legs

7 Best Foam Roller Exercises for Legs

So now that we understand What Is Myofascial Release, lets get down to work with these 7 foam roller exercises for legs.

If you’re not so sure how to use the foam roller to massage and stretch your legs, this would be a great start. Only 7 simple and easy foam roller exercises for your legs.

These self-myofascial release movements with the foam roller, are focusing on the lower body; glutes, thighs, calfs… You can perform these movements before or after any workout, or by itself as part of your mobility and stretch routine. 

Foam Roller Benefits

Before you join me on the foam roller and realize what you’re missing out on… just a short reminder to some of the great benefits of executing self-myofascial release regularly. Who knows? you might make it one of your daily habits 😉

  • Releasing of trigger points known as “knots” as a way to establish proper movement patterns and pain free. 
  • Increasing blood flow, which helps for faster recovery from workouts.
  • Improving joint range of motion and flexibility. 
  • Maintaining a healthy functional muscular length. 
  • Relieving muscle soreness and joint stress.
  • Correcting muscle imbalances. 
  • Improving neuromuscular efficiency.  

How to Foam Roll Legs?

The following 7 foam roller moves cover all your leg muscles and glutes (butt muscles). Foam rolling your the lower part of your body requires a little upper body work as you lean on your hands or forearms in plank positions. So on top of the benefits of foam rolling your legs on a regular basis, you can actually achieve some upper body strength as well. Being able to hold yourself in the right position is important and allows for massaging the targeted muscle much more efficiently.

After you position yourself in the right place for the targeted muscle, roll slowly and gently back and forth along the muscle. Breath deeply as you roll for about 30 to 90 seconds. If you feel any tight or tender spots, you can pause there for a few deep breaths. Avoid applying pressure on bones and joints, just muscles. This technique is relevant to foam rolling your upper body as well.

Which foam roller is best?

There are many foam rollers in the market; different sizes, shapes and colors… My recommendation is to get a simple long foam roller (36″). Consider starting off with a soft one, as you might find the hard foam rollers creating too much of a discomfort. We want to be able to perform the rolling movements with a gentle feel of a massage and stretch without the need to stop because it is too uncomfortable or painful. Here you can find the ones I recommend. 

FR Exercise #1: Quads

From a kneeling position with the Foam roller horizontally in front of you, place your thighs (Quadriceps muscles) over of the roller and go down on the forearms. Roll slowly back and forth along the quads muscles; from right above the knees, up to the hip. Breath deeply and try to relax. Perform about 30-60 sec.

Variation: with the knees bent in 90 degrees, and rock them from side to side as you roll. 

FR Exercise #2: Inner Thighs

From the previous movement, remain on your forearms and place the foam roller to your side, along the body. Position the leg on top of the roller, knee is bent and level with the hip if possible. Start rolling back and forth out to the side and back to center. Can be done with bent and/or straight knee. Perform about 30-60 sec.

FR Exercise #3: Glutes

From sitting position on the roller, place one leg on top of the other. Tip over to the side (same side of the top leg) so only one hip is on the roller. Roll slowly back and forth. This one could feel really intense and “deep”; if you noticed a tender spot – try to pause there and take few deep breaths. Perform about 30-60 sec for each side.

FR Exercise #4: ITB (Iliotibial Band)

Turn on your side with the top leg in front with the foot flat of the floor and bottom leg straight. Go down on the elbow, and start rolling slowly back and forth along the outer thigh. To “deeper” feel – stack your legs together with the top leg straight over the bottom leg. Perform about 30-60 sec for each side. 

FR Exercise #5: Hamstring – Variation A 

From sitting down on the floor, place the foam roller horizontally underneath your thighs. Push through the hand to lift your pelvis up in the air and start rolling back and forth. Tip: in case you find it hard to lift your body off the ground – use 2 yoga blocks for each hand. This will allow more range of motion to move more easily back and forth. Perform about 30-60 sec. Allow yourself to take breaks from time to time if the load on your hands feels too much. 

Variation: cross one thigh on top of the other for better compression against the roller  to feel more of the “massage” effect.

FR Exercise #6: Hamstring – Variation B

Since the hamstrings are tricky to get to when it comes to self myofascial release with the foam roller, especially if your hamstring muscles are very tight, I’ve come up with another variation you might find more comfortable to execute. Place one thigh on top of the roller, with the other leg bent and foot flat on the floor. Use one hand to push yourself off the floor (can use again a yoga block), and the other hand on top of the leg to apply more pressure against the roller. Roll back and forth as you also rotate through the hip inward and outward to target the whole hamstring area. About 30-60 sec for each leg. 

FR Exercise #7: Calfs

Again, you can use 2 yoga blocks for the hands, if you find it challenging to lift off the ground. Place your calfs over the roller, lift up the pelvis off the ground and start rolling slowly back and forth. To apply more pressure – cross one leg over the other. About 30-60 sec.