This article will be focusing your legs and hips. Tight legs and hip are usually the reason behind a tight and sore back. Tight leg muscles pull on the lower back and by stretching and rolling those muscles we can start to alleviate some of that pain. Remember to drink a lot of water after you have done the exercises. Rolling the muscles releases the toxins that cause muscle knots and tightness. If the toxins aren't flushed out then your muscles can get tight again. Actually drinking water in general is a great idea.
I wrote an article about the how I feel a foam roller is important and which is the best on the market now. If you are looking at getting one or why you should then I would recommend starting with my previous article on the best foam roller.
Stretches - Basics
These first couple stretches I went over in the previous article. Start with these basic stretches to get your muscles used to rolling. I would recommend doing them for a week or two before moving on to the more advanced techniques. If you have worked on flexibility in the past then go ahead with all the stretches.
Do each of these stretches 3 times spending 30 seconds per on the big muscles, ex: Hamstrings, Quads and Calves, and 15 seconds on the smaller muscles.
Hamstrings and Glutes
Start with your legs extended with the foam roller directly under your thighs. Place your hands on the floor behind you. Using your arms to start the motion, slowly roll back and forth to move it up and down from the bottom of your glutes to just above your knees.
*If your knees also hurts you can roll under your knees about every other roll.
*As you roll, try rotating your legs in and out from the hips – this will allow you to hit your hamstrings more thoroughly.
Start on the floor with the roller underneath your calves. Place your hands on the floor behind you and raise your booty putting all of your body weight on your hands and your calves. Slowly roll forward and back to move it up and down from just below your knees to above your ankles.
*To up the intensity, do the move one side at a time by stacking your legs.
*Try rotating your feet in and out as you roll to hit your calves more fully.
Moving past the basics
Doing the following stretches will increase your flexibility. These stretches target areas that everyone needs to focus on; even those athletes among us. They focus on the little muscles that help with leg movement and even starting to hit the muscles that connect into the back.
Start on your knees with the foam roller in front of you on the floor. Lay down on it as if you are doing a plank. You want to place the roller so that it is resting right where your pockets are. Rotate to one side so that your weight is on that sides pocket. Start to roll. using your other leg and arms, from you hip down to the top of your quad. Rotate to the other side and repeat.
*To increase the intensity rotate your all the way to the side as you roll.
Inner Thigh/Hip Adductor
Start with the roller under your inner thigh near where you're hip ends. Start the rolling motion with your arms and other leg. Roll from the bottom you're groin muscle all the way to right above your knee. Switch legs and repeat the process.
Start with the foam roller just below you're knees. Placing your hands in front of you start the rolling motion with your hands. Roll until the roller is just above you're an ankles.
*For an advance stretch try rolling one shin at a time while rotating your ankle. You will hit the entire shin from inside to outside.
Lets talk IT
The IT band is usually a trouble spot for most people. It gets sore, over used and under maintained even by those in the best shape. The thing is that you don't want to exclusively roll out your IT band. Some experts will even tell you to not do it at all and solely focus on the muscles attached to the IT band. I am apart of the school that you should roll them and try to strengthen and stretch the muscles around the IT band. So the IT band stretch is a little different because there will be a strengthening exercise. The thing with rolling your muscles is that you are also stretching them and doing some kind of strength training. This not only alleviates the pain but also fixes the problem. The IT band is not a muscle which is why you need to focus on the muscles attached to the it.
Start by laying on the roller sideways with leg straight and resting on it just below your hip. Place your hand on the floor inline with your shoulder. Take your other leg in place it in front of the leg on the roller. Start the roll with your arm and leg. Roll from the bottom of your hip to right above your knee and then switch legs.
The work out
This work out is on top of what you would normally do for leg workouts. Lay down on the floor on your side very similar to the stretch. The only difference is instead of putting the top leg out in front, you want to place it on top of your bottom leg. Slowly take your top leg and lift it trying not to turn your hips or foot over. Doing this will cheat the exercise and make the movement easier. Take the movements slowly really focusing on keeping you form. Do this ten times on each side.