The foam roller is a great tool for the elite and recreational athlete to use in their training. Some of the benefits include improved posture and balance, the breaking down of scar tissue, and increased blood flow and improved circulation. It also increases flexibility by stretching and strengthening muscle and tendons. In the following article, the exercises are divided into parts of stretching and then strengthening for that section of the body.
There are three various ways you can stretch your chest on the roller. One way is to lie on the roller with it extending from the top of your back to the end with your bent knees, arms extending to the side in a surrender position. You can also sit with your back arched and your arms extended to the back, to the side, or up in the air.
Push Up Roller
On your knees or toes, position yourself in a push-up position and face the floor with your hands curved around the roller. The goal of the pushup is to keep your back straight, engage the core and to extend your shoulder-wide arms toward the roller and then back again while keeping your balance.
You can perform a plank on the roller. It is the same as push up except that you hold the up position. A plank can be done with knees on the floor or lifted up into the air. Push ups and planks can be made harder by putting one leg over the other for a one-leg push-up that will also encourage more core stability by making your muscles work harder.
Extension and Stretch
Stretch out your back under your hips to get a lower back stretch.
Roll the back of the roller and make sure you go from the mid shoulder to the end of the backbone. Don’t roll beyond the glute.
Biceps and Triceps Stretch
In a side position, have your arms outstretched and the roller positioned under your armpit. Roll upward and downward and make a mental note of any sore spots. For the other side your arm, just reverses the position of the arm and roll up to the shoulder.
For biceps, form a prayer position.
For a shoulder stretch, give yourself a hug.
For a tricep crunch, bend the elbow and grasp it with the other hand.
Glute and Hamstrings
To work your hamstrings and glutes, start to roll in the buttocks area on the top of the roller. Carefully go over the knee and slowly roll the lower half of your leg.
For a quad stretch, lie prone on the floor and put your roller underneath. Change your position frequently and use extra caution when rolling over the shin since there are limited fat and muscle there to cushion it against the roller. For an advanced move, lift one hip and leg up and roll with the other.
Hip and IT Band
Lie on your side and position the roller right below the hip. For a beginning move, you can have one leg on the floor and, for an advanced move, have one foot on top of each other and roll. You can also keep the roller still and lift one leg as you continue to balance with the other.
Position yourself vertically with the knees bent and feet firmly placed on the floor. At the top, reach your arms out and repeat.
Reverses and Forward Crunch on Roller
In a supine position with the roller on your back, bring up one leg and then the other. Make sure you do it slowly with purpose as you bend each leg into your chest. You can also crunch on the roller by bending one leg over the other. By twisting the head slightly with the hands behind the back, you can also do an oblique crunch as well.