7 Ways to Work Your Foam Roller

foam roll 650
(Photo: Shutterstock)

Foam rollers are amazing fitness tools, so great that they should be a must-have in every fit mama's home gym. They are absolutely the best for all the aches and pains strenuous activity puts on our joints. Even on stressful days at the office, it's to come home and stretch out the tension with some basic exercises. If you recently purchased one and don't know where to start, here are 7 basic foam exercises to get you rolling:

Soothe Back Pain: Upper Back Roll:

Upper_Back_Roll-Grouped

This move is great for helping stretch out your back and relieve any pain you may have there! For an even deeper stretch, try lifting your hips!

  • Step 1: Begin sitting down with your legs bent and feet on the floor, then lean back onto your elbows. Have the foam roller behind you and lie down on it. Lift the hips up a little to walk the feet forward or backward, adjusting your starting position. You want the roller to be just below the top of your shoulder blades. Cross the arms over your chest so you pull apart the shoulder blades, exposing the tight muscles between them. Tuck your chin.
  • Step 2: Keeping the hips lifted, use your core and quads to help you roll back and forth over the roller. Roll it as far down as your bra line and as far up as the top of your shoulder blades. Lean into any sore or knotted spots. Rest your hips on the floor as needed.

Single Leg Quadricep Roll:

One_Legged_Quad_Roll-RESIZED-1

Lie on your roller and roll it from hip to knee. Extend a leg if you’re having balance problems or if the pressure is too much.

  • Step 1: Come down to the floor on your elbows and stick the foam roller under one quadricep. Have the other leg bent and propped up to the side like a kickstand.
  • Step 2: Roll forward by leaning the shoulders past the elbows, and roll backward by moving the shoulders away from the elbows. You might need to lightly adjust the kickstand leg. Keep the pressure on the quadricep as you roll, no more than eight to 10 passes at once.

Hamstring:

Hamstrings-Foam-Roller_RESIZED1

Remember to sit straight while doing this exercise and keep your muscles relaxed.

  • Step 1: Sit with the back of your thighs on top of the foam roller and both hands on the floor behind you. Keep your leg muscles relaxed, and let your heels lightly drag on the floor.
  • Step 2: Roll your hamstrings from just above your knees to just below your pelvis. To increase intensity, shift your weight to one leg by crossing your legs at the ankle.

Neck:

Neck-Foam-Roller_RESIZED1

If you have an injured or uneven cervical spine, do not do this exercise. While preforming this move, remember to keep your body relaxed. Also note that the weight of you head should be the only weight on the roller.

  • Step 1: Lie face-up on the floor, with the back of your neck resting on top of the foam roller.
  • Step 2: Slowly rock your head from side to side, allowing the roller to press into the muscles on the sides of your neck. Keep your body relaxed during this exercise. The weight of your head should be the only force against the foam roller.
0comments

Calves:

Calf_Massage_Roll-Grouped

This exercise is similar to the hamstring exercise, only focused on your calves. For a deeper workout, only place one calf at a time on the roller.

  • Step 1: Sit with your legs stretched out in front of you and pop the foam roller underneath one one above the ankle. Cross the other leg over top to provide more pressure. Make sure your hips are in line with your arms or slightly behind them when you start.
  • Step 2: Lift the hips from the floor and push them forward, allowing the hamstring to roll over the foam roller. Keep the hips lifted off the floor as you roll a couple inches at a time. You can stop, reset the roller to target another area slightly higher and work your way up the back of the leg. Try eight to 10 passes before moving on, no more. If you come across a sore or knotted spot, just hover over it for a few moments taking deep breaths and then continue.

Intensifying a Plank or Push Up:

Intensifying-Plank-Foam-Roller-RESIZED1

This adds a little more engagement with your core muscles to add even more to your workout. If this is too difficult at first, try using a half roller instead.

  • Step 1: Place one, or both, hands on top of a foam roller. Complete a plank and hold for one minute.

Intensified Lunges:

Intensified-Lunges-RESIZED1

Take advantage of the rolled shape and do an Intensified Lunge! This will help strength your balance over time.

  • Step 1: In a split stance, place your back foot on top of the roller.
  • Step 2: Bend your front knee and extend your back leg out straight as you lower into a lunge, sliding your shin over top of the roller.
  • Step 3: Slowly rise up out of the lunge, drawing the roller in towards you as you stand.