Foam rolling part 2: 6 exercises you didn’t know you could do using your foam roller!
We’ve previously shown the many benefits in using foam rollers as a form of self massage, or myofascial release, to reduce adhesions and improve muscle flexibility. But there are also many other exercises you can perform using your roller to improve joint mobility and challenge your core strength! We commonly prescribe these exercises within our physiotherapy exercise classes, but here are 6 of our favourites you can try at home. They might even be a bit nicer than your usual foam roller choices!
FOAM ROLLER EXERCISES
Thread the Needle
Start in four-point kneeling position with your roller next to one hand. Reach your other hand up, twisting with your upper back and keeping your shoulders relaxed. Don’t strain your neck, but follow your fingertips with your eyes as far as you are comfortable doing. Gently thread this hand underneath your body, rolling your hand along the roller to increase a gentle stretch in this direction. Repeat 6-10 repetitions each side.
Arms on roller
With your spine supported vertically along the roller, draw in your core lower abdominal muscles (belly button gently to spine), reach two arms up overhead, and back to shoulder height. Repeat 5-10 repetitions. Try also alternating by taking one arm up while the other arm goes down by your hip, or opening your arms out to the side. Repeat 6-10 times. Ensure you keep breathing gently and keep the core engaged – it will help your back stay still and keep you on the roller!
Core + leg lifts
Great core strengthening exercise. Keep your spine vertically along the roller with your head supported, gently draw in your core muscles, and try and lift one foot up to table top position (90 degrees at hip and knee). Keep the roller as still as you can while you return your foot to the ground. Repeat alternating legs 5-10 times each.
Bridge feet on roller
To increase gluteal and hamstring muscle strength, as well as pelvic stability. Squeeze your bottom muscles, gently lift up, slowly peel down with your spine. Repeat up to 10 times.
Wall shoulder flexion/arm raises
Standing about 30cms back from the wall – start with the roller at your wrists, about shoulder height. Keep your chin in and shoulders down, and gently roll the roller up the wall as it moves towards your elbows. Maintain your posture as you roll back down to starting position. Repeat up to 10 times. Try this with theraband around your forearms for added shoulder strengthening.
4 point diagonals
(hands or knees – or both! – on roller)
This is a great core and postural strengthening exercise! Start in hands and knees with the roller under both hands. Switch on your core muscles by gently drawing in your belly button towards your spine and make sure your spine is straight (not dipping down with your lower back or curving with your upper back). Tuck your chin in gently to ensure your head is in alignment with your spine also. Maintain this position as you extend one arm. Repeat keeping your upper body still and extend one leg. Progress by doing one arm and opposite leg at the same time! Alternate sides. Perform up to 10 repetitions of each.
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This post was written by Megan Esdale, Physiotherapist and Clinical Pilates Instructor at Stafford Physiotherapy and Pilates.