Just Roll with It
We have many clients who regularly use a foam roller to roll out their ITBs (Iliotibial Bands that run down the lateral side of your thighs) and upper back, and the benefits can be quite significant! However, many people are unaware that the foam roller can be used for so much more than just your ITB’s and back. By expanding your exercise repertoire with the foam roller, you can get even greater benefits from it!
The foam roller is one of the best small apparatus you can incorporate into your Pilates and stretching routines, both in the studio and at home. Not only is it relatively inexpensive, it’s small enough to store away when not in use and light enough to quickly bring out for a short session.
Here are 5 of our favourite foam roller exercises that you will definitely want to try. Let’s get rolling!
This exercise is brilliant for increasing the intensity of glute work, and it helps in correctly activating your hamstrings. Place your feet on the roller, inhale to prepare, then exhale to peel your back and bottom off the floor, vertebrae by vertebrae. Inhale at the top, then exhale as you roll down, vertebrae by vertebrae. If your hamstrings cramp, think about pushing your feet into the foam roller. The challenge is to not let the foam roller roll away – it is harder than you think!
This exercise challenges your deeper abdominals, as you hold your spine stable while arcing the legs. Start by lying on the foam roller so your head and bottom are supported, bring your hands down by your side to help you balance. Inhale, and float one leg up to tabletop. As you exhale, float the second leg to join the first leg. Inhale to prepare for the next movement, exhale and arc one foot to the floor (keeping the angle of the knee the same), inhale and return it to the starting position. Exhale and arc the other leg to the floor, inhale return it to the starting position. Aim to do 10 on each side. Remember, the less amount of wobble on the roller, the better!
This exercise will help to increase the range of motion in your shoulders. Start by lying on the roller so your head and bottom are supported, bend your knees and have your feet flat on the floor, shoulder-width apart. Take your arms up to the ceiling.
Complete the following 3 variations:
- Protraction and Retraction: Inhale and reach your hands to the ceiling, then exhale and pull your hands directly down toward the floor, letting your shoulder blades slide down and “hug” the roller.
- Switches: Inhale to prepare, then exhale as your right arm arcs overhead (past your ear) while your left arm arcs in the opposite direction, towards your foot, so that it comes to rest beside you. Inhale to bring the arms, in an arc, back to start position. Exhale and repeat, moving the arms in the opposite direction to the first time.
- Tricep press: Inhale, bend the elbows, then exhale while you extend the elbows until your arms are straight again.
If you spend a lot of time sitting at your desk, then this is an ideal exercise for you! Lie on your tummy with your arms extended overhead (in front of you), wrists resting on the roller with your thumbs to the ceiling. Inhale and gently press your pubic bone into the floor as you activate your deeper abdominals. Exhale as you pull the roller toward you. Keep your arms straight and lift your head neck and shoulders off the floor, as you shine the sternum (breastbone) out. Inhale and hold at the top. Roll back down to the starting position as you exhale and release all your breath.
This exercise may reveal imbalances in your body that you didn’t know you had! Give it a go – you’re bound to be surprised. Start by kneeling on the roller with your feet off the floor and directly under your shoulders. Inhale to prepare and exhale as you reach your right leg and left arm out. Be careful not to take them higher than your torso or you may arch your lower back. Inhale as you return to the starting position. Continue to alternate from one side to the other, keeping the same breathing pattern.
_ _ _
Start our Free Trial today and enjoy the benefits of Pilates.