YTU Rolling for Runners

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Are you a runner looking for a more practical solution for your post-run recovery or pre-run warm up? As runners, our bodies are familiar with the high impact, hard hitting, repetitive toll that adding on miles takes, which is why I feel that the running community can positively benefit from YTU Therapy Ball use. Short distance, competitive, and ultra runners can all gain many perks from the self-message techniques performed with the YTU balls – regardless of the miles covered, your tissues need a self-care and recovery tool that is as hardworking as your body.

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

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

The running community has stretching on its radar – calf stretch, runner’s lunge, and hamstring lengtheners all initially come to mind, but are those muscles really primed for stretching after miles of the repetitive motions of running? Overuse of the same tissues can shorten some muscles, while overstretching others, which can cause uneven wear on joints and gripping and knots in many muscles. YTU Therapy Balls provide a tool for achieving tissue balance throughout the body so that it is better prepared to recover. By rolling out the adhesions in the soft tissues, the Therapy Balls also return length to the tissues so they are primed for more efficient stretching.

Runners are not entirely unfamiliar with myofascial release, as almost every runner has used a foam roller at some time. It’s not that the foam roller is bad, per se, but the grippy, pliable, rubbery surface of the YTU balls is much more forgiving to soft tissues than a hard, unyielding foam roller. More notably, the Therapy Balls are far more effective at penetrating the superficial layers and “digging into” fascia than a large rolling pin. For those runners who travel often, the cumbersome mass of the foam roller makes it difficult to pop in a bag during travel, lug to parks or trails, or use during post run sessions at the computer. (Yes, you can use your Therapy Balls under your feet while at your standing desk or under your hips while seated.) The biggest “ah-ha” for me was rolling my IT band with YTU Therapy Balls. With the small, spongy, malleable Therapy Balls you can create cross-friction and slide between the layers of connective tissue layers in the thick iliotibial band and its neighboring vastus lateralis muscle. The foam roller provides more of a sledgehammer approach to self-care with its solid and inflexible surface as compared to the focused precision possible with the moldable YTU balls.

Another terrific benefit of the YTU balls for runners is rolling the tissues of the upper back, shoulders and chest areas. Many runners have no idea what their favorite fitness pastime is doing to their bodies above the waist until they experience self-massage on their upper bodies. Chronically overstretched upper back muscles and internally rotated shoulders, coupled with the repetitive pumping motion of the arms makes for a supreme slate of body parts that need to be reset, reopened and restored. The YTU balls can bring any runner greater awareness to these often unattended places and offer myofascial release to these upper body areas for soothing, self-care recovery.

Check back on Friday for my favorite YTU therapy ball rolling exercises I most often share with the running community, the “Calf & Hamstring Smash.” This YTU technique is time efficient and super effective for runners and for anyone who kneads to regain balance in tissues with issues!


If you liked this article, read Shin Splints: Not Only For Runners

Get YTU Therapy Balls for on demand pain-relief.

Read more about injuries and how YTU can help.

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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Jon Connelly

My father is always complaining of knee pain after long walks. I tried the Yoga Tune Up Therapy Ball technique you’ve shown behind the knee, along with some IT band stretching and glute med rolling. I was able to get rid of his pain within 15 minutes, and give him a new understanding of some of the root causes.


Thank you for this. I definitely agree that Yoga Tune Up balls are a great self care tool for runners, helping them treat not only the usual hips and lower limbs but also the upper body to become more resilient runners.


Im introducing my runner husband to the yoga tune up balls now and I think we have a convert. Im so happy to take all I learned from you, Dawn, and the assistant gang with me and put it into use! I miss our daily practices so much though! Thanks for everything, Laurie!


I run for fun and have a many friends that run more professionally and that their only way of stretching their tight hamstrings is via foam rolling. I can’t wait to share with them the ytu balls, I know they can make a huge difference in the effectiveness of the release of tension!

Amalea Fisher

I second therapy ball work for runners as being crucial. Tissues can get very inflamed. So glad that you point out that it isn’t only the legs but also upper body. I also find that the layers of fascia around the abdominal muscles as well need to be rolled out with a soft sponge ball or Coregeous ball.


Great reminder about repetitive actions, especially fixating on lengthening muscles along the fibre direction.
Waking up over stretched tissue with cross fibre motion using the YTU balls is a fantastic awareness exercise and stimulates new sensations.


Never thought about chronically overstretched upper back muscles and internally rotated shoulders as unattended places in runners. We always just think of the legs and hips! I love that YTU balls offer myofascial release for these areas in a convenient way (no more traveling with an obnoxious foam roller).

Donna Burch

Great point about runners and their upper bodies! I work with a lot of injured runners in the pool and am excited to share the YTU Therapy Ball work with them.

Juliana Attilio

I completely agree Laurie! Many runners will roll out their legs, but often overlook the work their upper body is doing and definitely the work their feet are doing. I’ve had some avid runners find tremendous relief from using the YTU balls. Especially along their tibialis anterior!

Heather Longoria

I have several “chronic cardio” junkies in my Gentle classes. I look forward to introducing them to some ball-rolling techniques to relieve tightness in the legs and back. I too have found that the balls are much more precise than foam rolling. There is no way to get into the tight upper back with a foam roller.

Juliet Hewitt

I have just started running again and the YTU balls are invaluable. My husband is a marathon runner and I have been working with him on his feet. My favorite thing to do is to roll out my shins using a block. This helps relieve the shin soreness I usually feel after a run.

Allison Pfeiffer

I love using my alpha balls on my IT Bands and I teach my runners this as well!


Another helpful article for me as I have runners and ” Tough Mudders” in my yoga classes. Helpful explanation about why YTU balls help due to grip. Thanks!!

Kyrin Hall

Thanks for contrasting the grippy YTU Therapy balls and the foam roller, and explaining why the malleable YTU ball is more effective for a runner’s soft tissue release,

Shari Williams

Thanks Laurie, I am not a runner, it isn’t my sport at all, but I am a yoga teacher and work with many different populations, some of my students are runners. This was very enlightening because I’ve never even considered what happens to these people’s upper body. How silly am I, of course it is impacted by the fixed position and pounding on the pavement. Thank you for opening my eyes, I love learning!

Betty Homer

Thank you–I am a long-distance runner who is noticing a lot of tightness in my upper body, especially in my neck and shoulders, from absorbing all the shock that comes with running. It is learning how to care for myself post-run that led me to YTU. I look forward to reviewing your other YTU tips and tricks for runners.

Melissa Melendres

Love this article Laurie! I am a runner and being introduced to the therapy balls recently have changed my runs (short or distant) TREMENDOUSLY! I always roll out before and after a run now. I especially love to roll out my feet. Something I could never do with a foam roller. Looking forward to reading more of your ball therapy techniques for runners. Thank you!

Tami Cole

Great article Laurie!! Even though I’m no runner; as in the only time I would deem it acceptable is possibly from life threatening danger; I know plenty of students and friends who love running. Being able to relate to others on their level and through their experience in order to explain the powerful benefits of the YTU therapy balls is wonderful boon. If they won’t believe me, a non-runner, I’ll just have them read your blog;-)

Giselle Mari

I wish more runners would read this article and take your advice. I know many people who LOVE running but are finding its grinding them down physically of which they attribute to aging rather than over use/misuse and postural alignment issues- among other things.

Although running isn’t my jam, using the YTU therapy balls has extended the life of the activities that I take on and have been instrumental in rehab of my shoulders. Although aging isn’t optional, quality of life and movement are. Thank you Laurie!


I have been running for fun for the past 4 years now and I have been followed by a rolfer on a regular basis… Gee I wish I would have known about the magic of the Plus Balls a little earlier!!! My rolfer was the only one who could really dig deep enough to access and release my tight psoas to help me out through my races… This year I beat my time with happy psoas 🙂 even though I had no appointment with him but simply did a self treatment with the balls prior to my race…. I would… Read more »

C. Chiu

YES! Though I do believe that a soft foam roller is a good introduction to self massage, the Yoga Tune Up Therapy Balls are more efficient at “digging in” to trigger points. Sometimes we just need a big rolling pin to ease us in.


Incorporating the YTU balls regularly can help stop minor aches and pain from turning into a larger, more cumbersome problem. Treating common areas that are stressed in running such as the peroneals, IT bands, and tissues in the feet runners can continue to train regularly without being slowed down by sticky tissues. Great info!


Do you have any good suggestions for knee pain from quad tightness? I’m about to begin my first marathon training and this is one of the things I’m most concerned about.


I incorporated a lot of YTU therapy ball rolling exercises while transitioning to minimal shoes, and i should talk i’m impressed by the progress. I find rolling out the sole of the feet especially helpful.

Melissa Williams

I love this article. I am a personal trainer and yoga teacher and a lot of my students and clients are runners that I feel could benefit from the YTU balls. I’m going to send this to like 5 people right now. Thanks!

Max Bayuk

As a runner who had let many of his overused muscles shorten to the point of severely diminished ROM, my muscles certainly were not “primed” to stretch when I began my attempts to reverse the damage I’d done. I didn’t understand what, anatomically, was happening at the time, but trying to stretch my knotted, matted down muscles was painful and didn’t seem to leave any lasting impact. I now realize that was because the sticky, bunched up fascia and other connective tissue would pull the muscles right back to their shortened position. But once I began complementing my stretching with… Read more »

Aotea Yoga

Thanks for this, another thought-provoking piece. I so appreciate your viewpoint.