Hip Flexor Muscle (Tensor Fascia Latae - TFL)
Releasing the tissue in this extremely impactful area is crucial for many reasons. The biggest reason is when it is tight, it rotates your pelvis forward causing all kinds of issues throughout your hips & spine. Also, your TFL tendons eventually turn into the IT band and when tight, the IT band can cause serious issues in the knee.
Glutes (Gluteus Medius)
Lower Back (Quadratus Lumborum - QL)
These muscles are incredibly important to maintain proper tension because they help us stay upright. When your hip flexors are tight causing your hips to rotate forward, typically your body will compensate by shifting left or right (or both). When this happens some of your abdominals (TVA or Tranverse Abdominis) become weak and the QL becomes the major spine stabilizer. This is not the duty of the QL and therefore it becomes overactive causing some major issues in the low back. By releasing the tight hip flexors in combination with releasing the QL, your body will begin to find a more natural (healthy) neutral position.
Back of the Upper Leg (Hamstrings)
This muscle is tight due to the nature of being flexed when in the seated position. Add in the tight hip flexors causing the glutes to be unable to function and the hamstrings become even tighter due to overuse in a dysfunctional manner. Having better functioning hamstrings are going to help you stand with better posture as well as provide your body with more deceleration during things like squatting and jumping.
Chest (Pectoralis Major)
Lateral Thigh (Iliotibial Band or IT Band)
This portion of your leg is often very tight and needs to be addressed if you want to reduce knee pain or limit the opportunity for knee pain to arise. This band tends to become tight due to the compensations created by tight hip flexors. When your femurs become externally rotated they cause the IT band to get entangled with other portions of your thigh muscles (Vastus Lateralus, a quad muscle, in particular). This will cause tightness in the fascial tissue down the outside of the thigh. It is important that you use a lacrosse ball for this specific release technique because you are going to attempt to find the back of the muscle, which you cannot do with other myofascial release tools.
Believe it or not, your calves become overly tight due to inefficient core stability. When our core muscles are not capable of stabilizing our bodies and ensuring a stable center of gravity, the calves become the major stabilizers. This is not the intended use for our calf muscles. Releasing this tight tissue, in combination with focused body weight distribution in the feet, will lead to optimum tension in the calves.
Lateral Back Muscles (Latissimus Dorsi - Lats)
This muscle is one of the influential muscles when it comes to walking or running (gait). This muscle is supposed to be in direct communication and function in coordination with the opposite gluteus maximus. When the chest muscles are tight and the shoulders and upper back become rounded, the Lats lose a lot of their function. Another important reason to release this tissue is to allow for improved Range of Motion in overhead movements. If you have trouble lifting your arms over your head, the Lats are a big reason why.
Bottom of the Feet
The bottoms of our feet tend to get very tight. We often (or always) have shoes on our feet which takes away a lot of the playability in your feet. This can trigger many issues up into your legs and lower back. Breaking up this tight tissue will improve your ability to stabilize yourself as well as adapt to different surfaces outside of the gym. One of the best opportunities you have with the lacrosse ball is you can use it while sitting!! So, when you are hard at work in the seated position, toss this down under your foot and you will begin to notice a change in how your legs feel when you get up!