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Foam roller exercises can be helpful for the majority of us, whether we’re sore from working out or we have tight muscles from too much computer work. In addition to relieving muscle tension, foam roller exercises can also be done to help strengthen our body, especially our core (which is our middle section). Since foam roller exercises can virtually be done anywhere (at the park, at home, while traveling, etc.), we just need a Foam Roller (and an optional Mat).

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 recently launched a new fitness tutorial series dedicated to foam roller exercises. In Part 1, Tiffany shares 4 foam roller exercises that relieve muscle soreness; in Part 2, she shows us foam roller exercises that boost flexibility and lengthen muscles; here in Part 3, she teaches us how to strengthen our body by foam rolling. When you strengthen your core section, you improve your posture, relieve stress on your back, and look more lean and svelte.

Foam Roller Exercises to Strengthen Your Body

Foam Roller Exercises – Part 3

If you have been following along with this Foam Roller exercise tutorial series and are looking to take your foam rolling techniques to the next level, these movements will add a little more balance, core, and glute work to your routine. Get ready to feel the burn!

Foam Roller Exercise 1

Foam Roller Exercises - Part 3 - Exercise 1

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. Use your arms at your sides with hands on the mat for balance as you lower down. Your arms will stay long down at your sides to help with balance for the remainder of this movement.

Maintaining your neutral spine position and keeping your abdominals engaged, lift one leg and then the other into tabletop position. One leg at a time, tap the toes down to the mat and then bring the leg back into the starting position. Repeat that same movement with the other leg for 10 reps on each side.

Tip:  Modify this movement by first starting with your feet flat on the ground. Starting with one foot, just lift the heel to bring the foot into a tip-toe position and then lower the heel back down. Work through this same “heel-toe” movement on one foot and then the other for 10 reps on each side. Over time, as you become more comfortable, gradually increase the lift to a couple of inches at a time until you are able to fully remain engaged in the tabletop position.

Side note: The act of accomplishing proper tabletop position is work within itself. Make sure you are familiar with and comfortable with your neutral spine position and that you are able to properly remain engaged in this position before you begin and work through this movement.

Foam Roller Exercise 2

Foam Roller Exercises for Strengthening

Setup: Maintaining your neutral spine aligned with the length of the roller, float the arms up above your chest until your wrists are in alignment over your shoulders. Engage your abdominals.

Foam Roller Exercises for Strengthening

Inhale, and then use your exhale to carve out your center as you lift your head and start to peel your spine off from the roller, reaching your hands towards your feet. Inhale, and then use your exhale to carefully lower back down to the roller and back into your neutral spine position.

Tip: Advance this core movement and challenge your balance by re-introducing Exercise 1 above, lifting one leg at a time, as you lift your body to curl (think knee-to-nose), and then lower the leg back down as you lower your body back down onto the roller. This should be a very controlled movement.

Side note: Don’t use momentum to lift and lower with this movement. Really focus on control, articulation of the spine, and engaging using your abdominals (not your neck or your chin) to lift.  

Avoid if:  The forward flexion of the spine should be avoided by those who have Osteopenia or Osteoporosis.

Foam Roller Exercise 3

Foam Roller Exercises to Strengthen Your Body

Setup: Lay on your back with both knees bent and feet resting on the roller hip-distance apart. Arms are long down at your sides.  Inhale and engage your abdominals. Exhale as you begin to lift your hips to the ceiling, lifting your glutes and low back off the floor to bring your hips and knees into a straight line, while still maintaining form and control (try to keep your knees over your heels and try not to let the roller move). Inhale as you check your alignment to make sure knees stay hip-distance apart. Exhale to slowly start to lower your spine, articulating through, all the way down until your hips are back down on the mat. Repeat this movement 4-6 times.

Tip: Make sure to not place any pressure on your neck at any time. Hold your weight balanced between your feet on the roller and your shoulder blades on the mat. Use your arms for support.

Side note: This is another movement you do not want to use momentum with. Balance, control, and form are key here, both on the way up and the way down. It is possible to experience discomfort or even cramping in your hamstrings if your body does not feel warmed up enough for this movement or if hamstrings and glutes are generally “tight” muscle areas for you. If this occurs, take a moment to perform a few gradual stretches prior to attempting this bridging stretch.

Avoid if: Should be avoided if you have any type of neck injury or have been diagnosed with or experience symptoms of Spinal Stenosis.

Foam Roller Exercise 4

Foam Roller Exercises for Strengthening

Setup: Follow the same setup for your bridging position as outlined in the previous exercise. Once you are in your full bridge position, keep your hips in alignment and lift one leg to tabletop position and then extend that leg up toward the ceiling so that your foot is over your hip (try not to let the roller move). Slowly lower the leg to bring the foot back to the roller and then start to release your hips all the way back down to the mat. Maintain control throughout the entire movement. Repeat on the other side for 2-3 reps on each side.

Tip: To add a little bit more glute work to this movement, release your hips halfway down to the mat while still holding your bridge position and then squeeze the glutes to lift back to your full bridge. Make this movement smooth and controlled. You can do this with either one or both feet on the roller.

Side note: Make sure you can properly perform bridging on the roller with both feet before attempting single-leg bridge work. You can practice the single-leg movement on the mat first, without using the roller.

Avoid if: Should be avoided if you have any type of neck injury or have been diagnosed with or experience symptoms of Spinal Stenosis.

The exercises outlined above are more advanced movements than shared in Part 1 and Part 2 of this series. It is important to be familiar with proper form and function before attempting these movements with the foam roller, as well as always making sure you are following the important points to remember while foam rolling and stretching.

As always, if you are unsure, consult with your medical professional to see if these exercises and the foam roller is a right fit for you.

To follow this Foam Roller tutorial series, subscribe to Inspirations & Celebrations by email, RSS, or Bloglovin.

For more exercise tips and tutorials from fitness experts and celebrity trainers, check out the Fitness section on Inspirations & Celebrations. Be well and stay inspired on your fitness journey!

Fitness Contributor: Tiffany Gutierrez

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.

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