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3 Foam Roller Exercises You Need to Try

Josh Crane, OPTP Staff Writer - May 31, 2017

Sure, the word on the street is out that foam rollers are great for self-massage, myofascial release, reducing muscle soreness, and increasing flexibility. But how many times have you thought about using a foam roller during exercise, as opposed to preparation for it or recovery from it afterward?

Magical Versatility
The foam roller can actually be used to perform a wide variety of exercise movements. Who knew? Turns out that a lot of folks in the Pilates and yoga scene did. In these disciplines, the roller is often used to create an instability that challenges the core, promoting strength and balance. Other movements use the roller in ways that increase flexibility and range of motion, such as stretching exercises. Like many fitness products, foam rollers hold possibilities for movement that are nearly endless, limited only by the imagination. But if you’re not feeling terribly creative, don’t worry…we have three great exercises demonstrated below, just waiting for you to try.    

Exercise #1: Toe Taps
This classic Pilates mat exercise is a great way to integrate the core and lower body. Adding the foam roller provides an extra balance and stability challenge, providing even further core engagement. When done slowly with precision, you can really feel the deep core muscles being worked.

How to Perform:
  • Lie vertically along the length of the roller as pictured
  • Rest your hands along the ground for stabilization
  • Keeping both feet together, pull your knees toward your chest as shown
  • Slowly, with focused control, lower one leg at a time until you tap your toes on the floor
  • Return to starting position, then continue to alternate lowering each leg
Description: Foam Roller Toe Tap Demo 1Description: Foam Roller Toe Tap Demo 2


Exercise #2: Push-Up Combo

Push-ups have been long regarded as one of the best exercises you can do for building upper body strength. This spin on the classic takes it to the next level. A great training and conditioning or general fitness exercise, it adds a “pike” component to challenge your core as well as your upper body.

How to Perform:
  • Begin with your hands placed on the roller in push-up position, feet close together
  • Perform a standard push-up
  • Roll the roller in toward you and perform a pike
  • Roll the roller back out away from you, extending into the top position of a push-up
  • Slowly lower yourself back down into starting position, then repeat 
Description: Foam Roller Push Up Demo 1

Exercise #3: Abdominal Crunch
The basic crunch is not an extremely difficult move. But performing crunches while balanced lengthwise along the roller makes for a much different experience. The instability of the roller requires more balance, making it an effective move that promotes a broader range of core activation.

How to Perform:
  • Lie vertically along the length of the roller as pictured
  • Place your hands behind your head
  • Slowly curl upward using your abdominal muscles
  • Don’t go too far forward; keep tension on the abs and avoid straining the neck
 

Looking for more?
Ask your fitness instructor if he/she is aware of more ways to use the foam roller in your exercise routines. Pilates instructor and integrative health coach Angela Kneale also has some great exercises for the foam roller in her books PRO-ROLLER Pilates Essentials and PRO-ROLLER Pilates Challenge. And don’t forget the plethora of foam roller exercise videos out there that can help you put that roller to good use. With so many ways to use the foam roller, you’re sure to enjoy all the creative challenges that it offers.
 



Comments

Sharon Spaziani - Jul 13, 2017 - 6:33 AM
Three great moves! Sharing this on my Studio page. Thanks- Millstone,NJ

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Josh Crane, OPTP Staff Writer

As a health and wellness enthusiast, Josh enjoys writing about events, new products, and research in the therapy and fitness fields.

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