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How to Foam Roll Tight Calves

by Patty Weasler, RN October 30, 2020 0 Comments

Using foam roll on calves

Learning to foam roll calves has gained popularity over the years as a tool to relieve tense muscles and work out adhesions in the lower leg. As a form of self-myofascial release, this useful and inexpensive device can be done just about anywhere. Keep reading to learn how you can incorporate foam roller exercises your calves into your next workout.

How to Foam Roll Tight Calves

Many people just grab a foam roller and get to work. But there is a right and wrong way to use this popular work out tool. Here are some basic tips and foam roller exercises to get you started on loosening tight soleus muscles.

Foam Rolling Basics

  • Move foam roller slowly over muscle groups
  • When you find a tender spot in your calves, work the area a bit longer
  • Try to move with your breath, the rhythm is relaxing
  • Don’t foam roll-over injuries or broken skin
  • If the calf pain is severe stop; foam rolling can hurt a little but should not hurt a lot
  • Foam roll before and after calf exercises.

    Inner Calf Roll

    Start off by sitting on the floor with the foam roller underneath your calf muscle. Slightly turn in your foot to position the inside of the calf muscle on the foam roller. Slowly move your calf up and down the foam roller until you find a tender spot. Stop once you find the spot and then extend and flex your foot to work through the soreness. It will take a minute or two to work through the tight spots.

    More Calf Pain Treatments

      Back of Calf Roll

      While sitting on the floor position the foam roller underneath your calf muscle. Keep your bottom in the ground with your hands behind you. Move your calf up and down the roller. When you feel a tender spot stop and extend and flex your foot to work deep into that muscle. Press your leg down into the foam roller for a deeper massage.

      Do These Calf Stretches After Foam Rolling

        How Often Should You Foam Roll Calves?

        You should reach for your foam roller when your calf muscles feel tight or sore. If this tends to be in the morning when you first wake up or at nighttime, you will still receive the benefits of foam rolling.

        Many people like to warm-up with their foam roller before exercise and use it as a tool to cool down. This will help to reduce soreness and improve your range of motion. You’ll find that there is no one right time to roll your calves!

        Foam rolling isn’t the only way to improve the range of motion in your calves, check out this article on calf muscle stretches to learn more.

        Foam Rolling Mistakes to Avoid

        There is definitely a right and wrong way to foam roll. Here we will cover the most common mistakes so you can avoid them.

        • Rolling Too Quickly

          When it comes to foam rolling, slow and steady wins the race. Move slowly over each muscle group to work out adhesions and relax your muscles. If you go too fast you won’t receive the same benefit and may actually cause your body to tense up.

        • Foam Rolling an Injury Directly

          You shouldn’t foam roll directly on top of an injury. The swelling, redness, and pain that comes along with injuries will only become worse with the pressure of a foam roller. You can foam roll around the injury, just be cautious and stop if you feel significant pain.

        • Using Bad Form

          That’s right you need to use the correct form to properly foam roll your calves. Most positions will require you to hold your upper body off of the ground. By doing this you are putting less body weight on your muscles and you can adjust the pressure as needed. If you aren’t sure that your posture and form are correct when foam rolling, reach out to your physical therapist or doctor.

        • Focusing Too Much on One Spot

          A lot of people will only roll over their sore muscles and trigger points. When you only focus on these areas you can actually cause more irritation and pain. Get all the muscles involved in your foam rolling and start off in an area that isn’t sore. You want to relax your muscles and easing your way in is the best way to do just that.

        Should You Foam Roll Your Calves?

        Calf pain can be caused by multiple different conditions. If you have tight calves from exercise then foam rolling is for you. But if your calf pain is from an injury then you should not foam roll. An injury to your calf can result in blood clots and tissue injury; foam rolling would make these conditions worse.

        Once you’ve determined that your calf pain is from sore muscles then it’s safe to grab a foam roller. Foam rolling will increase blood flow to your muscles, loosen your muscles, and speed up recovery.

        Sore Calves from Running?

        Trying Foam Rolling Safely

        Learning how to foam roll your calves is an important step to release tight connective tissue and tight muscles in the lower leg. It can be done before or post-workout to alleviate pain and soreness. It’s also a great injury prevention tool when used on a regular basis. Always check with your doctor before you begin to make sure it is the right tool for you.


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        Patty Weasler, RN
        Patty Weasler, RN

        Patty Weasler is a freelance health writer and nurse. She is certified in critical care nursing and has been practicing for over 10 years. Patty lives in Milwaukee, WI with her husband and three children. She enjoys spending her time with family and educating people about their health.

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