Research indicates that using a foam roller for as little as ten seconds can increase range of motion up to 11%. On top of that, using a foam roller increases circulation, minimizes inflammation, and reduces scar tissue and joint stress. This guide gives you a step by step foam roller exercise plan to stretch and recover every part of your body.
- Place the foam roller under your back so that it is parallel with your back (longways).
- Get into bridge position.
- Place your arms by the side of your head with your palms pointing upwards.
- Bend your arms so that the elbows are bent at a right angle (90 degrees). Now move your arms up and front, so that they come close to each other.
- While doing so, the 90 degrees angle in the elbows must not change.
- Reverse this step to complete one cycle of the exercise.
Modern lifestyle involves sitting for long hours, which means less thoracic extension. Less thoracic extension often leads to pain in shoulders, neck, or upper back. This exercise will provide your body with the much-needed movement to the region. It will stretch your muscles, make them reach their maximum elastic potential, and weed out any pain in these due to insufficient muscle movement. In addition to relieving shoulder pain, foam rolling in this manner has another not-very-well-known benefit. Putting the weight on your shoulder blade muscle, Trapezius, will help it grow stronger and gain more mass and power. Moving arms up and front again and again will strengthen your triceps and biceps and prevent fat accumulation in the underarms.
- Lie down and place the roller under your upper back.
- Fold your knees properly so that your feet are flat and in complete contact with the floor.
- Put your hands behind your head and shift your weight onto the upper body (the area of your upper back).
- Now, move in a way so that the roller moves between your upper back and mid back.
This exercise will primarily rid you of two kinds of pain. First, many a times the muscles in the back develop pain due to inactivity. Using an upper roller for your upper back will provide the much-needed activity- that too in the form of extension, the best known activity for muscles. Second, this exercise contributes to the strength of your spine and relieves you of spine problems, like backache. Not many people pay sufficient attention to the fact that the spine is the most important pillar in human body. Not giving it a little (but only very little) stretching can lead to a cycle of never-ending muscle pains.
- Lie down on your side.
- Place the foam roller a little below your armpits and fold your hands behind your head.
- Now fold your top leg so that it partly supports your weight. Your lower leg should stay straight.
- Now slowly bend your lower leg (the straight one). The foam will roll towards your armpit. Stop when it barely touches the armpit.
- Now reverse the previous step to complete one cycle.
The Latissimus Dorsi (often known as the lats) is a big muscle on your side and back. No workout is complete until it involves a part to tighten the lats, which helps your body in two ways. First, bigger lean muscle development will lead to burning more fat and reduce the abdominal area. Second, increased muscle mass increases their contracting ability and enhances your body stamina. In addition to tightening your lats, the exercise does a little more: It provides workout for your Teres major, Teres minor, and Infraspinatus, which are also one of those muscles that often get ignored in most workouts.
- Lie down straight and place the roller under your lower back.
- Fold your knees properly so that your feet are (flat) in complete contact with the floor.
- Put your hands behind your head and shift your weight on the lower body (area of lower back) to one side.
- Now move in a way so that roller moves under your mid back muscles.
- After doing one side, put the foam roller under the muscles of the other side of the back.
- Repeat the movements done with the first side.
Most back pains are associated with weak lower back muscles, and this foam rolling exercise is meant to do just that—provide the badly needed strength to your aching lower back muscles. The exercise builds the external and internal oblique muscles of the lower back, in addition to strengthening the erector spinae. As a result, the Hypertrophied muscles will bear stress more efficiently while resisting the usual concomitant of back ache. In addition to stretching (and ultimately strengthening) the lower back muscles, this exercise will also strengthen your vertebrae and keep them from getting their intervertebral discs slipped—something that happens to bodybuilders and nine-to-five workers alike.
- Lie flat on your stomach.
- Put the roller between your armpit and shoulders so that it is parallel to the direction of your body (long ways).
- Now extend the corresponding arm outwards.
- Now, by generating force from the other arm, which should be bent with its palm flat on the floor, shift your weight outwards, so that the roller moves towards the center of your chest.
- Once there, repeat the steps.
- Now do the same for the other half of the chest.
The chest has large muscles, called pectoralis major and pectoralis minor, which coordinate with muscles from the neck, arm and shoulders. Adding strength to these muscles can greatly improve one’s ability to use the upper part of the body to lift weights and in movement. This does just that. It stretches these muscles, vents localized pains in them and then makes them strong. Strong pectoral muscles also enable your chest to generate more output (force) with less input (effort). The state of the chest muscles also determines how easily the chest may get cramped; the stronger they are, the lesser the impact of any physical stress on the chest. In short, foam rolling the chest may relieve you of the existing chest pains and prevent many more in the future.
- Sit on the floor and place the roller under your right glute.
- Place your right hand under you so that it supports your weight.
- Now bend your left leg and cross the right leg over it.
- Now move back and forth so that the roller moves under the entire surface of your glute in one cycle.
- Shift on the other leg and repeat the steps.
The gluteal muscles and the hamstring muscles work in coordination for the movements of the hips. By means of exercise, particularly this foam roller exercise, one can make these muscles very strong. The result of this is a noticeable improvement in posture, relief from pain in the hips, lower back and knee. But there is something else about the gluteus muscles that make it absolutely important that you treat them with foam rolling. Gluteus is the strongest muscle in the body. When kept in good shape, it works as the source for much of the force we need for our day to day activities. The need for this force-base is even more pronounced in sports that rely on the hip muscles to generate force. So if you are into tennis, cycling, running or a similar sport, taking up this exercise may multiply your body’s ability to generate force.
- Lie on the stomach with your elbows against the floor, supporting your weight.
- Place the roller under the thighs. Your feet should be perpendicular to the floor (as in pushups).
- Move back and forth so that the roller moves under the entire surface of the thighs in a complete cycle.
Quadriceps, or simply the thigh muscles, are one of the strongest (and busiest) muscles in the body. But these could also be a big problem if you do not have them strong and regularly stretched. Most of our day to day activities (even as basic as walking) require the strength and flexibility of quadriceps. Lack of flexibility usually manifests itself in the form of pain in the thighs. This foam roller exercise helps you with this lack of flexibility. It vents the built-up tension in the thighs by stretching the muscles, which results in better protection against leg injuries, like sprained knees and sprained ankles.
- Lie on the floor and turn to your right side.
- Raise yourself above with support of your right arm and place the roller under your thigh.
- Fold your left leg in front of your right leg so that the left foot presses hard against the floor.
- Now move back and forth so that the roller moves between your knee and hip bone.
- Repeat these steps for the left side.
Pain in the IT Band is something that affects most people involved in running or sprinting. The reason behind it is quite obvious: the IT band fibers get involved (more) in such sports, but most people do not have the requisite strength in the IT band muscles to meet the demand. This results in pain in the IT bands. Foam rolling in this manner serves your IT bands in two ways: first, it builds them and makes their injury less likely in the first place. Second, it works on the existing injuries by stretching the IT bands and release the tension accumulated in the muscles.
- Sit on the floor and place the roller under your thighs. Keep your torso and back upright.
- Support your weight by pressing both your hands against the floor.
- Roll back and forth so that the roller moves between your hamstrings and the knees.
The exercise serves the hamstrings in two ways. First, it prevents injury. Second, it expedites the recovery process in case of an injury. The foam roller works by lengthening the hamstrings and distributing the pressure in segments. This segmental distribution of stress ensures equal stress distribution, which in turn leads to pain relief. For people who claim to have developed a “knot” in their muscles, the exercise could be particularly helpful. It creates the proverbial myofascial release that eliminates the pain in the hamstring muscles. Just make sure that you let the foam roller stay longer on the “knot”.
- Place the roller on the floor and get on your knees and palms in such a way that the roller is under your shin muscles.
- Try and shift most of your weight on the roller.
- Now put your weight on one leg (left, to start with) and roll so that the roller rolls from just under your knee to just above your ankle.
- Now reverse the upper step by using the left leg and putting pressure on the left shin.
The exercise is an immensely helpful healing technique for shin splints, which are usually attributed to muscular imbalance, inflexibility, and muscular overload. The exercise addresses each of these factors. By evenly distributing the stress, it remedies muscular imbalance and muscular overload; by stretching the shins, it removes inflexibility. The exercise also increases blood flow to the shins, eliminating pain and soreness from these. And like all other foam rolling exercises, it also builds the muscle and increases its strength. In short, foam rolling is a complete remedy for shin pains and splints, and it serves sportsmen and ordinary people alike.
- Sit on the floor and put the roller under your right calf.
- Use both your hands to keep your balance and keep your weight on the calf. Fold the left leg on right.
- Now move up and down so that the roller rolls under the entire calf. Repeat the method for the left calf.
Calves is one of those areas of the body where foam rolling is most effective. Almost every single activity in life involves the use of calves, which are served in every possible way by this foam rolling exercise. To start with, it evens out the blood flow in the calves, which is important because calves follow a very linear blood flow model. Most of the blood flows straight through these, and since most people do not do much with their calves except for walking or running, the blood distribution in the calves often remains uneven. Over a period of time, it may lead to weak calf muscles. Last but not least, this exercise stretches the calves and creates the myofascial release.