The running community can benefit greatly from myofascial release with YTU Therapy Balls.

On Wednesday I wrote about the benefits of YTU therapy ball self-massage for the running community. This hard-hitting, repetitive, high impact sport can cause muscles to tighten, shorten, form knots, and get just plain cranky. Using Yoga Tune Up® therapy ball techniques offers a primer to prep tissues for post-run or workout stretching. The Therapy Balls enable a greater sense of release and relief of self-massaged areas. Another bonus of the myofascial release is that can set the stage for enhanced performance for the next run or any activity you may do.

A favorite rolling technique of mine is the Calf & Hammie Smash (shown below) which focuses on the posterior chain of the legs. It is a very time effective technique as is targets many areas at once. It also combines different ways to roll the balls giving the legs a variety of fascial friction. The focal pressure of the balls speed up blood flow and hydration in the tissues of the legs. If you’ve been pounding the pavement or trails, this calf and hamstring self massage exercise is for you!

Not into running? Hikers, high jumpers, high heel wearers, and anyone who uses their legs to move, can benefit from this YTU technique. Check it out here and let’s get rolling!


If you liked this article, read YTU Keeps Marathon Knees Tuned Up.

Tight hamstrings or IT Band? Learn Quickfixes for the lower body.

Read more about how to tune up your feet and ankles.

Laurie Streff

Laurie is a movement educator with over 25 years of fitness teaching, management, and corporate wellness experience. Passionate about creating learning spaces that are innovative, dynamic, and every-body friendly, it's Laurie’s goal to inspire people to prioritize self-care through exploratory movement and restorative techniques. She is especially excited to share the self-care principles of Yoga Tune Up® and The Roll Model® Method which bring heightened awareness to what the body needs to operate at its very best. Laurie teaches a wide variety of classes at Equinox clubs in the Los Angeles area, and also provides movement workshops, teacher trainings, and corporate wellness sessions nationwide.

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Yes! Amazing little rollout here. I haven’t ever thought to add a therapy ball while sitting in seza. Although I’m not there yet, I can’t wait to work up to it! Practice makes perfect, right?

Jon Connelly

I loved the combo effect of the “Calf and Hammie smash”. I’ve been biking about 10km to work everyday, and I bike, then sit right down at my desk after which just shortens my hamstrings even more. This really helped ease the pain and inflammation I was getting in my posterior chain.


Thank you for this! I have been reading Jenni Rawlings’ blog on how to target the Soleus Muscle in stretches with bent knees. So your video and myofascial treatment is a great addition to that, especially the pose with toes tucked under. In my case that is important in order to stretch the calf while keeping the foot dorsiflexed (as in walking, running, squatting).

Esme Lopez

Thank you for posting this short video, I will be passing this technique onto my friend who is a runner.


Hi Laurie!!!
Thank you for posting this! I remember crawling into your YTU class at Equinox Woodland Hills one day after running the LA Marathon in tears and you fixed me!!! That was one of my very first YTU encounters, and it completely changed the way I train, regenerate and recover. Your inspiration & extensive knowledge is one of the reasons that brought me to the YTU Training. Thank you so much for your wonderful teachings! Look forward to more of your classes 🙂


Great technique to target two areas at once.

Sharon Nikolai

Wonderful technique! I will share with my clients!! Keep posting!


I have always used a tightly rolled mat for the “smash” but the YTU therapy balls (any size) as a “smash” seem better able to control pressure and location along calves.


Great combination technique for the posterior chain. I will be able to use this for my group classes – we don’t have enough chairs/boxes for everyone and I don’t want people to smash their hamstrings with knees extended. Looks painful – but after playing with it myself it’s super easy to control the pressure. Thank you!

Rita Chow

Definitely my favourite yoga tune up rolling technique. I share this to everyone who sit a lot, walk a lot, stand a lot… basically anyone whether you use a lot / not use a lot of the lower half of the body. This is a must do for anyone who is experiencing with knee pain, I’ve got lots of really good feedback from my students.

Jamie Walsh

Thank you Laurie.

We NEED to be paying more attention to the calves. No one notices them until after you draw attention to them.

This is one of my favourite rolling techniques for calves too.


This is so helpful. Hiking has made my posterior leg muscles really tight. This calf and hammie smash is a favorite, but I’ve been using the original size therapy balls. I’m going to try with the alpha today!


The benefits of the YTU balls seems to be endless for runners and athletes in general. The focal pressure of the balls speed up blood flow and hydration in the tissues of the legs, just like massage. And if you can’t afford going to see a therapist every week, this is an amazing tool to have. The myofascial release from using the balls can set the stage for enhanced performance for the next run. Amazing!

Pamela Ferner

I have been totally ignoring my calves. seriouly in denial about how tight they are and how that impacts so many of my yoga poses, not to mention just how I move through the day. I have been afraid of yoga tune-up balls because I bruised the first time I tried the tune-up balls on them. I tried your method again this morning and it felt painful but so good. I am crossing my fingers that I don’t get any surprise bruises. A little every day feels like it will be a slow and much needed relief.

Amy Moore

I am a cyclist and have been looking for ways to use the Yoga Tune Up therapy balls to help ease the tension in my legs. I can’t wait to try this out tomorrow after my ride. Thanks for the video!

Heather Longoria

I did a really short trail run yesterday here at Kripalu, and when I woke up this morning, I felt so much tightness in my gastrocnemius, soleus, and calcaneal tendon. I can’t wait to try this simple ball-rolling technique. Thank you!

Sarah Harmon

This is not a pose that puts a smile on my face while doing it, but I know it’s one of the best ones for me! I recently taught this in a runners recovery class and the commentary/relief afterwards was inspiring. I’m glad you mention its important for the high heel wearing population as I just commented on another calf post about that. I heard Kelly starrett recently remind us that ANY lifted heel is a high heel… we don’t need to be in a stiletto. It’s eye opening to survey people’s shoes and definitely motivates me to weave in… Read more »

Kathy Shaul

This is my favorite way to soothe and stretch out calves and hamstrings. Love the difference it makes in your down dog and how much it helps everyone, athlete or not! Thanks for sharing the video!

Lauren Reese

As a person who has suffered from plantar fasciitis this method for rolling out the calf muscles will be really helpful. I look forward to incorporating this into my pre-walk/run routine.

Rachel T.

This is exactly what I need. I do not run. However, my right calf and popiliteus have been over firing and compensating for my glute and quad respectively (according to my NKT certified coworker). I have been looking for something better than a foam roller to help me get thru this. I am def adding this into my routine!

sarah howard

YESSSSS! As a tennis player , I have really tight calf muscles and I have been enjoying using the YTU balls pre AND post a long tennis session. What relief!


I am sitting seza as I read your post, and had to stop halfway through reading. Grabbed my toted omega therapy balls (alphas are on my chirstmas wishlist) and went to town on my sore legs. This two for one is a such a perfect quick fix, and I can already feel the tension melting away. Thanks for the tip!

Kate H

I tried doing this with two balls in a tote, but this definitely is the better way to go. Being able to move the ball up and down meant I could really get the Soleus as well. I even added a pin and spin to a few spots. Relaxing my face became just as important. Thanks!


Thank you for posting this. I’m an avid cycler and runner, so my calves are constantly overused. It is nice to know of a way to properly stretch this part of the body.

Cathy Mook

I do a lot of walking and this YTU technique really has helped my yelling calves!!!!! Thanks!

Kassandra Barker

I find the tune up balls much more effective than a roller especially with those nasty deep trigger points in this area.

Karen Smereka

Not too long ago I read on Todd Lavictoire’s facebook page that there is a calf sacroiliac joint connection too. I was nice to be reminded that rolling increases hydration of the tissues. Drinking water isn’t enough.

Morgan Macgregor

I love this. I can’t believe how much time I used to spend trying to stretch out my calves and hamstrings after a long day (especially a day with a lot of walking). Stretching feels good but never really gives me the relief and restoration of the muscles that I’m looking for. One of my teachers taught this pose using a towel and it totally changed my life, but the ball is MUCH more effective given the different movements you can do. I also prefer to use my own body weight and control in this way, rather than having my… Read more »


i have tried this stretch with a dowel yet found that prop to be to be ineffective due to the size. I will offer this option to my students, especially those who feel tightness in their posterior chain.


Not just for athletes! I wear safety shoes all day at work, and the heavy, inflexible soles play havoc with my calves. This Yoga Tune Up ball trick is a calf-saver. Thank you for posting the video.

Kimberlee Ott

I enjoyed that she talks about the hamstrings here, ive done similar rolling exercises and the hamstrings were not even mentioned. i also liked the curling of the toes under and the shifting side to side to get into different layers.

Camille Morrs

I’ve only tried this with the regular size YTU balls I look forward to trying the Alpha. Does it matter if you do one calf at a time or both? Sometimes I do this sequence with feet flat and sometimes I do it with my toes tucked. I noticed that its harder to tuck my left foot toes than it is my right. I haven’t mastered the muscles in the feet yet, do you know what muscles are tight when you can’t tuck the toes under?

Kim Cordova

I need an alpha ball! so much leg pain from a new running regimen right now, are there any “hacks” or other types of balls a person can use so that they can get the benefits without spending so much money on balls?


While this isn’t the most comfortable posture, it is nice how it’s an passive-static position, meaning hardly any exertion is required. A good “roll while you read” (or watch TV) technique for sure.


I practiced this during a “Improve your Squat” Workshop last week. It’s definitely not pleasant but effective! 🙂

Melissa Williams

Awesome video. I love the way my legs felt afterwards. Thanks!


Very time effective technique, helps me to increase blood flow in my calves and avoid soreness after hours of hiking.