The foam roller is one the most useful exercise tools in my home and in my physical therapy clinic. Beyond the common use for rolling out tight muscles, it can be used to mobilize most joints, and provides a dynamic surface for enhanced strength and control training. Below is a basic exercise program to open up the shoulders and chest, activate the core, and strengthen the gluteals and hamstrings. This is a particularly great exercise progression in you sit in front of a computer for prolonged periods.
Big Clap:Start by laying on the foam with knee bent, feet shoulder width apart, and arms open wide. Draw your belly button up and under the rib cage to stabilize the lumbar spine, and bring hands up and together. Repeat 20x.
Swimming: Continue to keep belly button drawn up and in, bring one arm up and overhead without allowing the rib cage to move, then switch. Maintain control of the abdominals and pelvis, the challenge here is to not allow the body to sway. Repeat 20x
Snow Angels: Still keeping abdominal contracted, bring both arms overhead without allowing the rib cage to rise, then swing them both all the down to the hips as if you were making a snow angel. Repeat 20x
Ceiling Reach: With palms facing in towards each other, keep shoulders and neck relaxed, and reach finger tips up towards the ceiling. You will feel the shoulder blades come up and away from the foam, then set them gently back down. Do no allow the elbows to bend. Repeat 20x
Cactus: Bring arms out with elbows bent in the form of a seguaro cactus ( or a football upright). Without allowing shoulders to elevate or rib cage to lift, extend arms up towards the ears. Keep your neck relaxed and abdominals pulled in. Repeat 20x
Foam Bridge:Lay comfortable on the floor with feet on the foam, knees bend and shoulder width apart. Draw belly button under rib cage, and lift hips up without straining the neck. Gently set hips back onto ground. Repeat 10x.
Swan:Lay face down with feet slightly wider than shoulder width, and arms propped overhead onto the foam. Continue to keep abdominals contracted, and press into the foam, lifting chest off the floor. Your head should be maintained as a long continued line of the spine, and should not extend up. Keeping eye gaze on the foam will help maintain this position. Repeat 10x.
Thoracic Extension: If you have neck pain, bring hands behind head to support head and neck. Otherwise, sit comfortable with knees bent and shoulder width apart. Pull bellybutton up and under the rib cage, and carefully extend back over the foam. Use your abdominals to bring you back forward and return to seated position. There should not be tension in the low back with this one, if you sense discomfort, do not extend back quite so far. Repeat 10 x.
There are 100’s of great exercises to do on the foam, stay tuned for more progressions.
Make your day great!