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Foam Roller 101 – Top 10 exercises – How to include foam roller exercises in your daily routine.

You’ve probably seen foam rollers everywhere lately. During these past years foam rollers have become more and more popular but, do you need one? What are the benefits? What type of exercises can you do with them?

In today’s blog post we will give you an introduction so you can understand this concept bettern and decide for yourself if you need one in your life.

WHAT IS A FOAM ROLLER?

Foam rollers have been around for a long time, but it hasn’t been since these past few years that they became mainstream. The growing popularity of this product reflects the recent increase in awareness that hands-on techniques like massage can help treat and prevent injuries in athletes. Foam rollers serve as an effective, inexpensive method for self-massage.

WHAT SIZE OF FOAM ROLLER IS BEST?

The foam roller is a very simple piece of equipment, it was originally a literal cylinder of hard foam, now you can find some made of plastic or rubber that they work just as fine. They come in a wide variety of sizes.

The longer the roller the more versatile it is, and the easier it gets to perform exercises. Although if you are planning on bringing it with you to the gym etc, it may be more convenient to buy a small one.

There are flat ones, with spikes, made out of different materials… that at the end it comes to personal preference or personal recommendation. We like the spiky one since we feel it works best in sore muscles.

HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU USE A FOAM ROLLER?

It’s very important to work hard during exercise and give it all you’ve got, but with constant stress on your muscles, it’s also important to make sure to cool down, relax and recover when your body needs it.

Foam rolling is an amazing and effective way to stretch and treat sore muscles, it can help decrease the pain and tightness, improve flexibility, prevent injury, and relieve stress.

We recommend to use a foam roller every day for 5 to 20 minutes, you can start by using it a few days a week, but you’ll notice a difference and want to use it more.

BENEFITS OF FOAM ROLLING

IMPROVES BLOOD CIRCULATION

Allows nutrients and wastes to move throughout the body more efficiently and leads to better overall cellular function and muscle repair.

“LOOSENS” MUSCLES

When muscles feel “tight” it means that muscles have become shortened. As foam rollers provide deep pressure, they help lengthen the shortened muscles.

HELPS PREVENT INJURIES

If “tight” spots or knots in the muscles are ignored, they are likely to become injury trigger points and could lead to various injuries. Foam rolling can help prevent injuries as well as enhance athletic performance. It’s also very beneficial when it comes to injury recovery, in fact it is one of the simplest and yet most valuable pieces of equipment that physical therapy clinics have.

INCREASES FLEXIBILITY AND RANGE OF MOTION

Increasing muscle flexibility means you feel less tight and probably perform your workouts with better, more efficient, and safer form. Staying flexible improves athletic performance, helps reduce injuries and keeps you strong and healthy as you age.

REMOVES LACTIC ACID

Prolonged and / or strenuous exercise often leads to buildup of lactic acid in the muscles. Using a foam roller after exercising may help blood acidity to return to normal quicker than usual.

TOP 10 FOAM ROLLER EXERCISES

Now we’ll show you our favorite foam rolling exercises to keep moving, decrease the pain and stay injury free.

1- CALVES

Sit with your legs extended out in front of you with the foam roller under your calves.

Keeping your legs straight and using your arms and hands roll your calves up and down on top of the foam roller.

Can be intensified by crossing the non-injured leg over the injured leg to put more pressure on the injured area as you roll it up and down.

**Indicated for calf strains, Achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis**

2- SHINS

Kneel on all fours with the foam roller under your shins.

Lift your knees off the ground and pull your knees up towards your hands and then push them back to the starting position.

**Indicated for anterior shin splints**

3- IT BAND

Sit on top of the foam roller on your side with the affected/injured leg down on the foam roller.

Cross your opposite leg in front with your foot flat on the floor; your hands are also brought in front and placed on the floor for stability.

Use your hands and leg (the one on the ground) to roll the outside of your bottom leg up and down on the foam roller.

**Indicated for IT band pain, knee pain, hip bursitis**

4- HAMSTRINGS

Sit with your legs stretched out in front of you with the foam roller under your knees (same position as #1 – calves).

Keep your legs straight and use your arms to roll your hamstrings on the foam roller from the back of your knee to the bottom of your butt.

(You can target one specific hamstring by crossing the opposite leg over the top of the injured leg and performing the exercise as written).

5- QUADS

Sit with your legs stretched out in front of you with the foam roller under your knees (same position as #1 – calves).

Keep your legs straight and use your arms to roll your hamstrings on the foam roller from the back of your knee to the bottom of your butt.

(You can target one specific hamstring by crossing the opposite leg over the top of the injured leg and performing the exercise as written).

6- PIRIFORMIS

Sit on the foam roller.

Cross your injured leg over your non-injured leg with your ankle just above your knee.

Roll your body slightly to the injured side.

Use your non-injured leg and both hands to roll your up and down your piriformis (one of the deep muscles of your hip – it’s deep to your gluteus maximus).

7- GLUTES

Sit on the foam roller with your feet flat on the floor.

Your hands are also down on the floor as you semi-recline backwards.

Use your arms and legs to roll your butt up and down over the foam roller.

Hint – you can emphasize one side or the other by leaning your body slightly to the injured side.

**Indicated for back pain, hip pain, desk jobs**

8- SPINE (PERPENDICULAR)

Lay on you back with your knees bent, cradling your head in your hands, with the foam roller across your shoulder blades.

Lift your hips up off the floor and use your legs to roll your body up and down on the foam roller.

Try to relax your upper body and let your spine “fold” backwards over the foam roller to maximize stretching at each vertebrae

**Indicated for upper back and neck pain, postural issues (especially with desk job)**

9- SPINE (PARALLEL)

Works best on a larger foam roller; I also prefer to do this one with a broom, mop, golf club, dowel, etc.

With your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, lay on the foam roller (so it runs the length of your spine).

Grab whatever rod you’re using and use it to stretch both hands high above your head and back towards the floor.

Hold 10 seconds and return to starting position.

**Indicated for shoulder pain, upper back pain, neck pain, postural issues (especially with desk job)**

10- TRICEPS / BICEPS

Lay on your injured side on your foam roller with your arm extended either in front of you or up above your head.

Lift your hips up off the floor and, using your legs, roll on top of the foam roller up and down.

The foam roller should be right in the back of your arm, if you want to target the biceps just rotate the arm so you feel the pressure in your biceps area. Doing foam roller exercises on your arms can be pretty painful as the upper arms are very sensitive to pressure like this. Take advantage of your legs and the arm you have as a base to help shift the pressure off of your biceps/triceps if things get too painful.


34 thoughts on “Foam Roller 101 – Top 10 exercises – How to include foam roller exercises in your daily routine.”

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