The 10 Best Foam Roller Exercises

10 best foam roller exercisesWhat if I told you there was a piece of fitness equipment that costs less than $20 and has therapeutic benefits similar to a massage? I know this sounds like an infomercial, but I’m talking about a foam roller.

The foam roller exercises below can help you break up muscle knots and pains, work your core and abdominal muscles, and increase circulation in your body.

Personal trainers and physical therapists use foam rollers to help their clients/patients break up fibrous tissue and alleviate soreness. But you don’t need a specialist to help you do the foam roller exercises below. They’re easy to do all by yourself!

How to use a foam roller

Begin each move by lying with the part of your body you’re targeting on top of the foam roller, then roll slowly in both directions until you find a tender spot. Hold for 30-45 seconds, or until you feel the muscle relax. Then, continue to roll until you find another sore spot. It’s really that easy. When you’re first starting off, take it easy and go light on the pressure. As you become more experienced, you can increase the pressure by pressing your body down into the roller.

Foam roller benefits

how to use a foam rollerThe benefits of using a foam roller are mostly anecdotal, which means there’s not much research just yet that provides cold, hard evidence about the therapeutic benefits of foam rolling. But based on feedback I’ve heard from personal trainers, physical therapists, and healthcare professionals, foam rollers are a great way to promote “myofascial release,” which is using gentle, sustained pressure to break down connective scar tissue and loosen up tight muscles.

According to one of the few research studies conducted to measure the benefits of foam rollers, using a foam roller resulted in increased myofascial release of the quadriceps and an increased range of muscle in the knee joints. The research concluded that “these findings have substantial implications for the usage of self myofascial release in rehabilitative and athletic settings.”

Another benefit of foam rollers is they work multiple multiple groups. Several foam roller exercises allow you to work your back, shoulder, abs, core, and legs. So while you’re targeting a tight spot in your thighs, you’re also getting a core and ab workout.

And, foam roller are cheap. You can get one on Amazon for around $20.

So long story short here: using a foam roller may help you ease tension in stiff muscles, break down scar tissue, and improve your range of motion.

10 best foam roller exercises

[table]Exercise,Muscles Worked,How to Do It,Example

1. Thoracic spine roll,”Upper back, Abs”,”Lie faceup with the foam roller positioned under your upper back. You knees should be bent and your feet should be flat on the floor. To start the exercise, press your feet into the floor and slowly roll the foam roller up and down over your upper to middle back. To increase the pressure, press more of your weight into the roller. When you find a tight spot, hold for 30 seconds then slowly roll and increase the pressure to alleviate tension,”,Watch video

2. Lower back roll,”Lower back, Abs”,”Lying faceup, bring the foam roller under your lower back. Support your weight with your feet planted firmly on the ground. If you can’t fold your arms across your chest, use them to gently support your weight on the ground. Slowly roll over your lower back until find a sore spot. When you find a tight spot, hold for 30 seconds then roll gently back and forth.”,Watch video

3. IT band (side) roll,”Hips, Abs, Legs”,”Lie on your right side while propping yourself up with your right arm. Slip a foam roller under the outside of your right thigh. Cross your left leg over your right foot. Begin to roll from just below the hip to above your knee, pausing at any tight spots. Repeat on the other side.”,Watch video

4. Front thigh roll,”Quadriceps, Abs, Chest, Shoulders”,”Start face down, balancing your weight on your forearms and your toes. Position the foam roller underneath your thighs. Begin rolling, and when you find a tight spot, hold for 30 seconds.”,Watch video

5. Back thigh roll,Hamstrings,”Start off sitting on your butt with your hands behind you. Lift up and place the foam roller under your upper thighs. Lift one leg into the air and use your arms to roll back and forth, focusing on the hamstring of one of your legs. Turn your feet out or in to work various angles of the muscles. Hold on any tight spots, then switch legs and repeat.”,Watch video

6. Lower leg roll,”Calves,Abs”,”Bring the roller under your calves, supporting your weight with your arms behind you. Roll over your calves, finding tight spots and pausing on those spots. To increase the pressure, fold one leg over the other. Turn your feet out or in to work various angles of the calf muscles.”,Watch video

7. Butt roll,”Butt, Hips, Abs”,”Start off sitting on your butt with your hands behind you. Lift up and place the foam roller under your butt. Place one leg over the other thigh and roll back and forth, pausing on tight spots. Use your arms to move your body into several different anglesĀ  to pinpoint trouble spots. “,Watch video

8. Arm roll,”Abs, Core, Back, Forearms”,”Get down on all fours and place the foam roller in front of you. Brace yourself with your left arm as you roll your upper right arm out in front of you. Move the roller to your right side and extend your arm out to the right to get a different angle (see video). Repeat both rolls with the other arm.”,Watch video

9. Foam roller Squat,”Abs, Legs”,”For this exercise, place the foam roller on the middle of your back and rest it against the wall with your feet shoulder width apart. Dig your heels into the ground and squat down using your thighs until your thighs are as close to parallel to the ground as possible. Raise yourself back up and repeat for as many reps as possible.”,Watch video

10. Balanced Shoulder Press,”Shoulders, Abs, Legs”,”Using a half foam roller, grab a pair of light dumbbells and press them up overhead. Repeat for as many reps as possible.”,Watch video[/table]

Want More Tips on Getting Tight and Toned?

This article is #9 in my free 12-part tutorial called “Exercise 101: How to Get In Shape“.

Next up is article #10, where you’ll learn about the best exercises for tight and toned abs.

Or you can go back to article #8 and learn how to lose weight fast and keep it off.

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