How to Release Your Calf and Achilles Fascia – Breaks Up Adhesions, Helps Knee Pain, Plantar Fasciitis, Leg Cramps & More

Who wants to release their calves?!

If you live in a human body, I hope you raised your hand. No matter who you are, what you do for work or sports or even if you sit on the couch all day playing video games – I guarantee your calf fascia needs some love!

If you haven’t heard of or already tried “the ONE Stretch”, then definitely check that out too by clicking here. It’s by far the most effective and fastest way to stretch your ENTIRE lower leg compartment all at once, not just your calf or gastrocnemius tissue.

I’m giving you this technique today because I’ve received a ton of emails requesting alternatives to The ONE Stretch, since some of you have had a hard time getting into the right position and/or figuring out how to do it properly. This is a fine alternative, just keep in mind it will take a little more effort over a sustained period of time to get the same results as someone else using The ONE Stretch.

Having said that, this technique is actually BETTER for releasing adhesions in the calf. The ONE Stretch is better at stretching all that tissue and create space, but it’s more difficult to break adhesions up this way.

So today’s technique would actually be better for those of you who have knee pain, recently rolled an ankle or have a history of rolled ankles (which is due to balled up fascia in the lower calf compartment within the Achilles area) or if you just know there are adhesions in there and you want them gone (like me! I always have some good ones going on).

Why release your calf fascia?

Releasing your calf fascia can help with ALL kinds of issues, including but not limited to:

  • Plantar fasciitis (click here for more info on PF)
  • Achilles tendonitis and other Achilles issues
  • Heel pain
  • Ankle issues
  • Knee pain (click here for more info on knee pain)
  • Soleus strains
  • Leg cramps
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Hamstring tightness
  • Tight calf/plantar fascia due to same side gluteus medius not firing
  • and more

How to release your calf fascia using a foam roller:

While I love foam rollers, for the record (in case you’re new around here) I am NOT a fan of using them to ROLL over soft tissue – EVER. The most common areas I see people still rolling are their IT Bands and calves. The reason I’m not a fan of rolling is it essentially tries to elongate tissue in only one (well, two opposing) directions (in a straight line). You’re essentially smashing your connective and muscle tissue towards the bone and then compressing it to that bone while trying to roll it out like pizza dough.

This is incredibly ineffective (it takes a LOT more force to release fascia than rolling will ever provide) and I don’t want you wasting your time!

I want you to get the absolute most out of your self care routine, and that means targeting your fascia directly for release through compression (pinning) and movement (stretching and releasing adhesions).

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, here’s how to release your calf fascia using a foam roller:

Choose your weapon of choice (aka foam roller). You could use a soft one like me in the video, or a much harder one. It doesn’t really matter, just remember that the harder the roller the more intense it will be.

PLEASE DON’T USE A KNOBBY ROLLER FOR THIS!

The goal here is to use the weight of your leg, and if possible some additional compression by lifting up off the ground, to compress your calf fascia to the roller. Then, you’re going to use foot movement to release the fascia.

Your gastrocnemius muscles are responsible for the action of plantar flexion (pointing your toes), so even just pointing and flexing will allow the tissues to expand and contract while compressed, which creates an all around awesome stretch for the entire connective tissue system within your lower leg compartment, and – if done correctly, it can release the adhesions stuck there.

How to get the most out of this technique:

  • Use as much body weight as you can – by lifting up off the ground and/or placing your other foot on the leg you’re releasing
  • Start HIGH just below the knee and work your way down into the Achilles.
  • If this is your FIRST time trying this, go verrrrrry slowly! Your job is to hunt out those fascial adhesions, and fast movement hides them. Slow movement reveals them.
  • Try not to rock your hips or legs side to side. Remember, you’re NOT trying to roll on the roller you’re trying to PIN or compress a piece of fascia and use your foot movement to release it.
  • Speaking of, move your foot in pointing and flexing movements first. Then try circles. S L O W L Y.
  • Spend about 30 seconds on each spot. If you’re doing it correctly that’s ALL you need! If you’re still figuring this out, going a little longer is ok.
  • You might find 4-6 spots moving from high to low.
  • Definitely get into your low calf and Achilles region! You’re likely to find a nice ball of knotted up fascia there and this technique is a great way to break it up.
  • If you get SORE the next day, back off how long you’re on the roller.
  • After you’re done with one leg, get up and WALK AROUND! Notice the difference. Then go after the second leg.
  • Do this as often as you think you need to. This will be different for everyone.

 

If you liked this post please “like” and share it!

Subscribe on YouTube for new episodes every Monday.

For personalized help with head to toe pain issues, click here to schedule a private Skype consultation with Elisha Celeste. SIGN UP for exclusive email updates and get $15 off your first session.

Mobility Work and Foam Rolling for Fascial Release FAQ – How Long, How Often, Should it Hurt or Bruise?

pf-ad-1

So you bought yourself a shiny new foam roller or lacrosse ball (or other mobility tools), or maybe you’ve had these for a while…but you’re not sure you’re doing things correctly, or enough, or maybe you’re wondering if you’re OVER doing it?

Today’s episode of Mobility Mastery Monday should answer your questions!

The video has it all, but here’s a recap of my 5 tips for the best self fascial release sessions:

1. How OFTEN should you be foam rolling?

This is fairly personal, or individual – meaning some people will need more while other people need less. I’m about to give you some guidelines, but no matter what I tell you I encourage you to LISTEN to your body, because it will tell you how much is enough (and the other 4 tips today will help you know what it’s telling you).

Generally speaking, for fascia health maintenance (meaning, there’s nothing ‘wrong,’ you’re not working on an injury or pain pattern) I suggest 2-3 times per week. If you just loooove your foam roller and want to do more, by all means do more.

If you ARE working on recovering from an injury or using fascial release to get yourself out of pain, then you could go after your target areas ONCE PER DAY for a week or two. Max. You do NOT need to do twice a day – if you do, chances are you’ll get pretty sore.

You certainly do not need to do your entire body every day.

2. Should you feel sore or get bruised doing this work?

The short answer is NO.

If you were in my office getting worked on by me I’d tell you that about 1 in 30 people get sore (even though what I do is FAR more intense than a foam roller or lacrosse ball). Given I’m not in your living room or gym with you and can’t control what you’re doing or HOW you’re doing it, chances are greater with self work that you might get a little sore from this.

If you’re doing things CORRECTLY, you should NEVER get sore OR bruised.

If you ARE getting sore, here are some things to check:

  1. Are you using a super hard or knobby roller? That can often cause soreness or bruising. I recommend starting with a SOFT foam roller, and maybe you’ll stick with that forever. You can work up to a harder roller but I never ever recommend the knobby ones for fascial release work.
  2. If you’re using a lacrosse ball, are you digging it into your tissue trying to give yourself a deep tissue massage? If so, you can definitely get sore or bruised. To do this correctly you want to PIN an area of your body TO the lacrosse ball (often needing to use your other hand to hold it steady) while another part of you moves. You’re trying to pin and stretch/release the fascia, NOT dig into it.
  3. Are you spending too much time on one spot? This can often make you sore – see tip #5 for more on this.

Regarding BRUISING:

I do not endorse or advocate that bruising is a good thing UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES. It’s not the end of the world if it does happen, but in my private practice I avoid it at all costs (and only 4-5 people have ever bruised from my work since 2008 and it was only in small areas like the tops of the feet). I want you to avoid looking like you’ve been beaten up too! This is my personal and professional opinion and I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who disagree with me, and that’s ok.

Here’s why I feel so strongly about this:

A BRUISE – meaning, a red, black and blue or yellow/green spot – is a soft tissue injury called a contusion. What causes the discoloration are small capillaries and blood vessels that have BURST and spilled their blood into the surrounding tissues. Those capillaries and blood vessels are DAMAGED. Thankfully, our body has a brilliant way of dealing with this by sending in hormones to contain the bleeding and heal the damaged tissue, so a bruise isn’t something to freak out about. However, the reason I want you to avoid bruises is because even IF you are creating some good through whatever method caused the bruising – you’ve also caused some (or a LOT) of damage. Inflammation is likely to occur, and if it’s a really bad bruise it might hurt so much you won’t want to be as active (which sucks), or it might take as much as a week or two to heal fully.

I’ve been using my body weight (sometimes all 145lbs of me) stepping on people since 2008, and soreness and bruising are NOT common. It is NOT a necessary part of healing fascia.

3. Should it hurt?

Yes. And no!

Read More

Why I NEVER Recommend Foam Rolling The Low Back (And What To Do Instead)

Screen Shot 2016-08-09 at 12.09.28 PM

pf-ad-1

If you are currently experiencing low back of ANY kind:

STOP FOAM ROLLING YOUR LOW BACK

I never ever recommend foam rolling the low back (for any reason), but if you’re experiencing low back pain then this is so important.

Why?

Here’s the short version:

Low back muscles (and the thoracolumbar fascia) generally take care of themselves when you take care of whatever it is that is causing them distress. What is causing them distress is typically something in the leg fascia (brought on by sports, lifestyle and habits). Occasionally there is a shoulder dysfunction that can cause low back issues but most of the time it’s in the legs. The point though, is that THE PROBLEM IS NOT THE BACK ITSELF, and going into the low back with a foam roller can make things a lot worse.

In addition, there are a lot of nerves in the low back region and not a lot of “meat” (generally) to absorb your weight (look at the picture over there), so you could cause nerve irritation or damage; and I DO NOT recommend rolling over your lower rib area or spine for ANY reason either.

Basically – there isn’t much reason to foam roll here AT ALL, and if you are in pain there is significant risk of causing more distress or more pain.

The long version:

This is the story of how I came to these conclusions.

When I first started working with people in pain (by “stepping on” them; I am NOT a massage therapist, so if you’re curious about exactly what I do you can click the link) I knew that when it came to back pain the cause was something in the legs. I never touched people’s backs.

One of my favorite things in the whole world is solving puzzles. When I first got started, every client that came to me was like a new puzzle to solve because I hadn’t yet figured out all the various types and causes of low back pain. (These days I’m rarely stumped, but happy when I am because it means I get to learn something new and help even more people!)

Over the course of several years (from 2008-2013) I gathered a lot of data that led me to the pain patterns I’ve discovered (what causes what), and nearly all of my low back pain clients were getting complete relief (often in ONE session!) but a question remained in my mind:

What about the back itself?

Read More

How to Choose a Foam Roller – Best Picks For Fascia Release

Screen Shot 2016-08-09 at 12.09.28 PM

pf-ad-1

Hello and Happy New Year!

My for wish each and every one of us this year is that we learn to trust our body, listen to its messages and in doing so become unstoppable.

I love that word – unstoppable – because to me it means that no matter what, we are committed to feeling our best and doing what we love. It does NOT mean being reckless or stupid and pushing our body past its limits only to become sidelined for months. It does not mean we are so superhuman we never have pain.

Being unstoppable means we’re committed to doing what we love, and when pain does rear its head, we know how to figure out what is going on and give our body what it needs as quickly as possible so we can get back out there to our trails, ski slopes, mountaintops or the simple joys of playing with the kids in our lives without worry.

One of your secret weapons against all those aches, pains and injuries is going to be your trusty foam roller.

The question I’ve been asked the most is:

“What kind of foam roller should I buy?”

This episode is for all of you struggling to decide which one is right for you.

If you’ve already figured out the best foam roller for yourself but you know someone else wondering what to buy…share this post and help a friend out.

It’s all right there in the video, but if you want a little more help in deciding…

Read More

Quad and Hip Flexor Release – This ONE Technique Relieves Piriformis, Glute and Tailbone Pain, Pulled Hamstrings and Groin Pain

Screen Shot 2016-08-09 at 12.09.28 PM

pf-ad-1

Possible SIDE EFFECTS of using the above technique:

  1. Feeling more FREEDOM and space in your legs
  2. More efficient/better running, cycling, hiking, dancing, Oly lifting (etc)
  3. Reduced low back pain
  4. Freed up hamstrings
  5. Relief from piriformis /glute pain and inhibited glutes
  6. Relief from pulled or tight hip flexor muscles
  7. Relief from groin pain
  8. Relief from hip pain
  9. Less knee pain
  10. A freed up and more balanced PELVIS (which can lead to less mid back and neck pain and a more even walking or running gait, not to mention better DANCE MOVES! And who doesn’t want that!?)
  11. and MORE!

To get the MOST out of this technique PLEASE READ THE FULL POST (better results if you do!)

If there was ONE area of the body I would have everyone dedicate time to, regardless of issue and even if you don’t have ANY pain, it would be the quads.

You can probably guess why…

We are a HUGELY quad dominant society (in western culture). We sit at desks all day starting in 1st grade all the way through college and most jobs in America are desk jobs. All this sitting sets us up to have tight fascia in our quads no matter how active or inactive we are.

On top of that, most of our sports are quad dominant: soccer, football, gymnastics (that was me), cycling, dancing, running (unless you know how to run using your hamstrings and glutes, and if you do – congratulations!)

One of the MOST powerful tools in the fascia release arsenal: Knowing How to Release the Quads

Read More

Knee Pain – The #1 Cause (It’s NOT What You Think) + How to Foam Roll for Knee Pain

Screen Shot 2016-08-09 at 12.09.28 PM

pf-ad-1

Knee pain.

I know first hand how excruciating knee pain can be, and it stopped me from being able to run or hike for 8 and 6 years respectively. Little did I know there was one major cause that never would have occurred to me, and there was a simple solution!

What prompted this post was several of you that I know and love who are far away, have terrible knee pain and can’t come and see me for 1-1 work. You guys have been telling me how horrible it is and asking me “what can I do?!”

I couldn’t sit back and not give you something to try on your own!

The IT Band is notoriously blamed for knee pain, but I have not found it to be a major cause. It certainly can contribute, as can other factors like tight hips or a history of sprained ankles. But 70-80% of the time it is something quite surprising (that quickly becomes obvious).

Find out what the main cause is in the first video, and then I’ll teach you how to foam roll to target this one specific spot.

Keep in mind that this is addressing the #1 cause, but not ALL causes. Foam rolling for pain relief takes longer than coming to see me in my private practice (for many reasons), but it can still be effective. Give it at least a week.

Let me know how this works for you, and if you have questions feel free to comment or write me!

 

Foam Rolling and The IT Band (Hint: It’s NOT the Enemy!)

Screen Shot 2016-08-09 at 12.09.28 PM

pf-ad-1

“I have an IT Band issue.”

I can’t tell you how many times I hear this from new clients who believe the IT Band is at the root of all their problems, from knee pain to back pain.

Google “foam rolling” and you’ll see more videos for how to roll the IT band than any other muscle in the body. I see people in the gym every day foam rolling the crap out of their IT band the way it’s been traditionally taught and I want to yell: STOP!

The IT Band is NOT your enemy.

The main job of the IT band is to stabilize us from knee to hip (or hip to knee). It needs to have a high degree of tension (tightness) in the direction of knee to hip to do that job.

Notice the picture on the right: the IT band is white, whereas the other major muscles are shown in red. This isn’t a mistake. While all muscles have a lot of fascia holding them together, the IT band is special in that it is mostly made of connective tissue (fascia) and almost looks like a giant tendon or ligament rather than a muscle.

Don’t make the mistake of rolling your IT band out like pizza dough!

Foam rolling as it is traditionally taught targets muscles (not fascia), and the method is typically an attempt to force the muscle to change via manipulation from the outside.

To actually stretch fascia and effect change, we need to pin it in place and then get the tissue to change itself through movement.

Watch the second video (below) to learn how I roll the IT band by

Read More