How to work on the TFL and the glutes using the foam roller and the ball.

Yesterday turned into a very sad day a few hours into work when I got an email from one of my hockey teammates. Some of you may remember this post from June when I shared with you that one of my teammates, Stephen, was battling pancreatic cancer. Last week I had learned that the chemo treatments had failed and that Stephen was in paliative care at home and then this past Tuesday night, he passed away. I knew he wasn’t going to be with us much longer, but I had no idea it would be so fast. I just broke down in tears at my desk. Stephen was an amazing teammate and a good friend. He was the type of person that always asked about your own interests and seldom liked to talk about himself or brag about his own accomplishments. He played for Team Canada in his younger years, has been a member of our club since 1972 and until this past year, was one of the strongest players out there. But it was his quiet, gentle and caring personality that I will miss the most.  His funeral is next Thursday and my work colleagues immediately shuffled their own schedules around so that I can attend it.

Ok, onto more positive, but still painful things…glute, TFL (tensor fasciae latae) and a little hip flexor work with the foam roller and therapy ball. YES!!! LOL!

Thought this simple pic might be useful if you don’t know where your TFL is or what it does – or other muscles in your leg.

So last week, after whimpering over the calf work, she then moved into the glutes, using the ball (again, she used the larger one, but the small ones, like I have, work well too).

Start, by placing the ball in a good meaty part of your glute (feel free to move it around to find a sore spot…if not every spot is sore!)

Then slowly lower as much weight down on it as you can – and hold it there for 60s or longer. BREATHE. (I’m calling this the start position)

Then abduct your hip out, dropping the knee down towards the floor on the side, but keeping your foot on the ground. And then aduct back in. Repeat this a number of times, slowly, stopping and holding on any sore/tight spots.

Here’s a video of it – again, I’m doing it quickly – it’s just to show you the motion.

Then from the “start position”, slowly extend your leg, keeping the foot on the floor at all times, and then bring it back in. Repeat this a number of times, slowly, stopping and holding on any sore/tight spots.

Another video to show you the motion

Then we moved onto the foam roller to do some work on the TFL – and little more with the glutes and some hip flexor.

Place yourself on your foam roller, with the roller being in between the femoral head (blue line) and the top of the iliac crest (red line) – this will allow you to get into the TFL.

This is what it looks like for me when I’m in between those spots.

Then you want to roll yourself back so you touch on your glutes a bit, then roll forward to the point where you roll onto your hip flexors (the front) a bit – and repeat this motion.

(Thank you to my friend who told me I look like I’m break dancing!)

Here’s a video of the motion – not sure I’m explaining it well!!

I didn’t find this movement very difficult/uncomfortable, but a friend of mine who is taking the class with me found it excruciating!! All depends on where you’re tight!

After doing the rolling movement, we got ourselves into this position (you can use something to keep your head/neck propped up if this is too uncomfortable for you). The important thing is to keep your hips stacked on top of each other (not leaning forward or backward). I didn’t enjoy this. My lower back didn’t feel totally safe and because my TFL doesn’t seem to be tight, it felt a bit useless to me. But again, my friend found this to be a really beneficial stretch for her.

Pouring rain this morning so my speed workout was done on the treadmill. 25 minute warm-up followed by 10 x 1 min 30 sec on 1 min recovery (this was to mimic 10 x 400m repeats) at a pace that went from 6:40 min/mi to 6:00 min/mi. I’ve said this before, but the way I keep track of what interval I’m on (it’s REALLY easy to lose track!!) is that I start with 10 pennies in one cup hold on the left side of my treadmill and after each interval, transfer a penny over to the other cup holder on the right side until I have none left! 🙂

Happy Thursday!!!

2 thoughts on “How to work on the TFL and the glutes using the foam roller and the ball.

  1. Rebecca

    I am so sorry about your friend. Pancreatic Cancer is the worst – because it seems to come on so suddenly. I have lost a close personal friend and a co-worker to pancreatic cancer. The co-worker one was especially hard because he was so young and it happened so fast.

    Thanks for the tips on the TFL – it comes at a great time because my running friend told me last night to work on my TFL 🙂



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