Episode 2: Basic Foam Rolling Exercises
Episode 2 – Basic foam rolling exercises
Foam rollers are a must-have for your exercise program.
Foam rolling exercises loosen up tight and overactive muscles and their surrounding fascia, improves blood flow by facilitating circulation, and it also facilitates better nerve signal communication to the muscles. Collectively these functions translate to many benefits such as, reduced injury risk, improved recovery time and posture as well as simple measures, like feeling more energetic or looking better.
- Before you get started, consult with your fitness professional to make sure these exercises are relevant for you, and have them tweaked appropriately to your own personal needs.
- Loosen up with some light cardio and remember that there will be a little discomfort when starting, so ease into the exercises.
- Make sure to check out my top four tips on foam rolling as well.
Basic Calf Foam Rolling exercises
One of the most common reasons calf muscles are tight is because of the raised heel in shoes. Raised heels keep your calves in a constant flex so you’ll want to loosen them up so they can work effectively. This will help to take some of the impact away from your knees, hips, and lower back.
To calf foam roll,
- Start with both legs out.
- Roll from the bottom of the Achilles tendon and work your way through your calves.
- Release the pressure and return to the starting position.
- Do the inside and outside of your leg by rotating them appropriately.
Note: for intermediate users, you may cross one leg over the other to intensify the roll.
Photo 1: Beginner calf foam rolling exercise position
Photo 2: Intermediate calf foam rolling exercise position
ITB / lateral quad Foam Rolling exercises position
The ITB fascia runs all the way from the knee into your gluts. The gluts play a big role in knee stability, control, and power in your movements. When performing this ITB / lateral quad foam roll, it would be best to distribute your body weight onto your front foot and arms to ease into this roll.
To ITB / lateral quad foam roll,
- Start at the top of the knee and work your way up towards the hip.
- Lift yourself up slightly and return to the starting position.
If you find a sore spot (or “trigger point”), stay on it and roll for a maximum of 8-10 seconds. You can also do a little “leg curl” to give it an extra stretch.
Photo 3: ITB / lateral quad foam rolling exercises position
Hamstring Foam Rolling exercises
The hamstring muscles play a huge role in lifting, standing, and running. However, if they are overtight they can result in lower back pain and tightness.
To perform a hamstring foam roll,
- Start with one leg crossed above the other and begin to foam roll on the lower part of the hamstring (above the knee).
- While putting extra emphasis on the working leg, progress all the way towards the bottom of your butt.
- Shift the pressure to your butt and arms, then roll back to the starting position.
Photo 4: Hamstring foam rolling exercises position
Want to know the other common foam rolling exercises? Read on!
Quad Foam Rolling exercises
Quads and hip flexors commonly get tight from sitting for long periods of time, and can also be related to tight calves.
To roll your quad and hip flexors,
- Get onto your forearms (similar to a plank position) with the foam roller positioned on top of your knee (on the quads).
- Roll your way up towards your hips.
- Turn on your side to reposition the foam roll back on top of your knee.
Note: you may pause on a spot that’s particularly tight and do a couple of leg curls to give it a good stretch.
Photo 5: Quad foam rolling exercises position
Thoracic Spine Foam Rolling exercises
This roll will help to improve your posture by improving the flexibility in the fascia around your rib cage and spine. It will also allow you to get more oxygen into your body.
To foam roll your thoracic spine region,
- Prop your back onto the foam roll, keep it in the middle of your thoracic region.
- Keep your hands on your head to support your neck.
- Lower yourself as far as you can go.
- Curl up.
Photo 6: Thoracic spine foam rolling exercises
These are some foam rolling exercises for the more common body parts. They will serve as a strong foundation in your fitness journey. While there are more exercises that you can do to expand your repertoire, you definitely can’t go wrong with these ones for getting better posture, reducing injury risk, and improving overall performance.
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Feel free to watch the video
How to foam roll common areas of the body
- Chek, P. (2009) How to Eat, Move and Be Healthy!
- Myers, T. (2009) Anatomy Trains: Myofascial Meridians for Manual and Movement Therapists (2nd Ed.). Churchill Livingstone
- Sherwood, L.(2004) Human Physiology: From Cells to Systems (5th Ed.) Thomson, Brooks/Cole
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