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Exercise Resources


Published January 23, 2019

Leanne demonstrates a few techniques for relieving the pain in the anterior chain using a foam roller. These exercises can be useful for relieving discomfort associated with foot, knee and shin pain.

Different groups of muscles allow our bodies to move in a variety of ways. While we often take it for granted, the anterior chain is one of the most important of these muscle groups. Here’s all you need to know about your anterior chain muscles – what they are, why they’re important, and a daily anterior chain workout routine to keep them in top shape.

What Is The Anterior Chain?

As opposed to the posterior chain (which is the muscles down the back, hamstrings, glutes, etc), the anterior chain is the front group of muscles making up the quads, hip flexors, and abdominals.

What’s So Special About The Anterior Chain?

The anterior chain is what we use every time we push ourselves up off the floor, sit up, get up out of bed or engage in many forward movements. So it’s pretty important. Even if you’re not a budding athlete, the anterior chain has a full-time job allowing you to run, walk, kick, stand up straight and balance.

Benefits Of Foam Roller Anterior Chain Exercises

Everyone’s had their fair share of back-rubs. But what about the front of the body? It kind of gets a miss when it comes to the typical massage points. But that doesn’t mean it’s any less important. In fact, loosening up the anterior chain is important for improving mobility, flexibility, and general well-being.

Foam rollers are an easy way of delivering that deep tissue massage that your anterior chain is crying out for. It helps relieve inflammation, unglue your tight muscles and leaves you feeling more relaxed.

1. Shin Roll

This exercise targets the tibialis anterior muscle which extends vertically down your shin. This anterior chain muscle rarely gets relief unless specifically targeted, so giving it the attention it deserves is really both important and satisfying.

  • Kneel on the ground and place the foam roller beneath your legs so it sits under your shins.
  • Make secure fists with your hands and balance yourself by placing them on the ground in front.
  • Pull yourself through so the foam roller massages your shin from top to bottom.
  • Take this slow and steady and if you find the spot then keep it there for maximum pressure.
  • For variation – place one leg on the ground behind you and push forward with the other leg, allowing your opposite hip to stretch.
  • If you find the hip stretch too much, keep one leg off, and place the roller underneath your other leg and without much pressure, roll your shin up and down.

2. Quadriceps

One of the main anterior chain muscles is the mighty quads. Athletes who do a lot of running and jumping will find this area extra sensitive.

  • Lying on the ground in a plank pose, slide the foam roller underneath you just below hip height.
  • With your forearms flat on the ground for stability, gently pull yourself forward, allowing the roller to reach all areas of your quads.
  • For extra weight, lift one foot above your knee and continue rolling back and forth.

3. Tensor Fascia Latae (TFL)

This muscle is a hard worker. It gives us flexibility and power to rotate our bodies, and tightness of the TFL can also affect joints that you wouldn’t dream were ever connected like the knee and ankle.

  • Lie at a 45-degree angle (side plank pose) with your upper body supported by your forearm and elbow.
  • Place the foam roller under the front of the hip.
  • Using your arm, rock back and forth to access the really sensitive areas.
  • Repeat with the opposite side.

Who Should Focus On The Anterior Chain More?

While some can get away with not paying too much attention to the anterior chain muscles, for others it’s a necessity. Athletes who play active sports like football, tennis, soccer, basketball, all rely on excellent anterior chain strength and mobility. If you’re working your anterior chain in the gym, it’s important you follow up with some stretches to keep this muscle group limber.

I’m Still Feeling Tight After Exercises – What Can I Do?

The health of our anterior chain is fundamental to our daily life. It affects everyday life activities and mobility. So if you’re experiencing pain or discomfort, it’s a good idea to see a professional. Contact your local sports physio and ask about anterior chain exercise examples, this way you can embark on the road to recovery and better mobility.

Reach out to our team at Integrity Physio – we’re happy to help. If pain persists, please consult a health professional. Our experienced physios are highly experienced in treating leg discomfort, so please don’t hesitate to book a physio appointment and get a professional opinion.

Leslie Trigg

Director & Senior Physiotherapist at Integrity Physiotherapy Leslie Trigg, has over 15 years of experience in clinical practice. He has graduated with a degree in Human Biology (Anatomy and Physiology) from Curtin University in 2001 and later completed a Masters of Physiotherapy in 2007. He has tremendous experience in musculoskeletal, orthopaedic, neurosurgical and sports physiotherapy. In his spare time, he enjoys swimming, listening to music and spending time with his family.