Foam roller exercises are some of the best movements you can do to relax tight muscles, alleviate soreness, increase flexibility, and help prevent injuries. Since you can do foam roller exercises virtually anywhere (at the park, in your home, on vacation, etc.), the only equipment you need is a Foam Roller (and an optional Mat).
Whether you workout regularly or find that your body often feels tight and achy, foam roller exercises can benefit you. In collaboration with Tiffany Gutierrez (a PMA certified Pilates Teacher and a TRX Instructor specializing in post-rehabilitative and restorative movement on the Monterey Peninsula in California), Inspirations & Celebrations is launching a new fitness tutorial series dedicated to foam roller exercises. In Part 1, Tiffany shares 4 foam roller exercises that relieve muscle soreness.
Foam Roller Exercises – Part 1
Benefits of foam rolling:
- Self-myofascial release
- Increased range of motion
- Injury prevention
- Increased circulation and muscle recovery
The foam roller is a great addition to your existing pre- and post-workout routine as well as an excellent way to provide relief for muscle soreness and any irritating trigger points.
As always with starting a new exercise regimen, consult a medical professional.
Foam Roller Exercise 1
Setup: Sitting up with knees bent and roller horizontally behind you, lay back and bring the roller to your upper back, just below your shoulders. Feet are flat on the mat. Cross hands over your chest or lace hands behind your head at the base of your skull, without pulling on your neck. Engage your hamstrings to lift your hips off the mat.
With your abdominals engaged the entire time to maintain control throughout the movement, gently roll back and forth. Avoid rolling into your neck area and don’t bring the roller any lower than your rib cage. Explore this movement for 30-40 seconds.
Tip: Slowly work into lifting the hips higher to increase body weight pressure into the roller for a deeper massage.
Avoid if: This position of weight bearing and foam rolling while the spine is in flexion should be avoided by those who have Osteopenia or Osteoporosis.
Foam Roller Exercise 2
Setup: Sit on one end of the roller with a tall spine and your bent knees hip distance apart. With control and abdominals engaged, start to slowly lower your spine, aligning it with the length of the roller until you are laying the full length of the roller with your head and neck fully supported. If you need to, use your arms at your sides with hands on the mat for balance as you lower down. Maintaining a neutral position, work from the shoulders to bring the arms forward and then raised overhead with a deep inhale, and exhale as you bring the arms out and around. Repeat this movement 3-5 times in each direction.
Foam Roller Exercise 3
Setup: Maintaining a neutral spine over the length of the roller, inhale as you float the arms up overhead reaching to the back upper corners of your space. Exhale to keep the arms long and tuck the elbows into your body creating a ‘W’ shape with the arms. Let the shoulders broaden allowing the chest to open and just breathe into the stretch, holding for 10 seconds. Repeat this movement 3 times.
Foam Roller Exercise 4
Setup: Seated in a ‘Z’ sit position, place your hand on the roller in alignment with the side of your body. Hips and shoulders start square and both of your hips are going to stay on the mat as you work. Inhale to lift through your center, engage your abdominals, and maintain a long spine as you use your opposite arm to reach out and overhead toward the roller into lateral flexion creating a nice open side-body stretch. Allow the roller to move away as you stretch but try not to put too much body weight on the roller. Your center is still engaged and lifted. Your neck is long, keeping your head an extension of your spine, and maintaining the space between your shoulder and ear. Reach long and tall to come back to center. Repeat this stretch 3 times and then switch your legs to the other side to repeat the movement.
Tip: Modify your position for this movement by sitting either in a cross-legged position or seated with both legs long in front of you and soft through the knees. Hips should be square in both seated alternate positions.
Avoid if: The side-bending movement in this stretch should be avoided by those who have Osteopenia or Osteoporosis.
As with any other type of movement and exercise, there are important points to remember while foam rolling and stretching:
- Always perform each movement with concentrated care and control and work within your range of motion.
- Always start slow and work your way into a position and progression. Never force a stretch or a movement.
- Modifications are our friend. Modifying a movement just means you are listening to and working with your own body.
- Always focus on form first.
- Don’t roll over injured areas. You can exacerbate the issue causing more harm than healing.
- Before you start any movement, find your center. If you lose your form throughout the movement, start back at center.
- What works for somebody else, may not work for you. Do what feels good and works for your body.
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Fitness Contributor: Tiffany Gutierrez
Tiffany is a PMA certified Pilates Teacher and a TRX Instructor specializing in post-rehabilitative and restorative movement and has been teaching and educating on the Monterey Peninsula since 2010. Having worked within various fields of movement therapies and with a background in Kinesiology and Exercise Science, she has a passion for healing through mindful movement, encouraging and challenging individuals of all levels to gradually achieve optimal performance of physical and mental fitness, health, and well-being. To learn more about Tiffany and find out where she’s teaching a class on the Monterey Peninsula, follow her on Instagram at @tiffanylaceypilates. As a fitness contributor to Inspirations & Celebrations, Tiffany shares Foam Roller exercises that help alleviate muscle tension, relieve soreness and tightness, and relax your body.