Exercise With a Foam Roller

From the WebMD Archives

By Amy McGorry

Foam rollers can be your best friends at the gym and are a handy tool for home workouts. Not only do they increase your flexibility by breaking up adhesions (aka knots) in muscles, but studies show that your abdominals activate more when you're exercising on a foam roller vs. stable ground. With many shapes and sizes to choose from, you can pack in a variety of workouts and stretches. Full-round, six-inch-diameter rollers are best for more challenging exercises and for rolling out tight muscles, while half-circle “dome” rollers are good for core work and balance exercises.

Let’s look at one progression that strengthens your abdominal and back muscles. During the following exercises, you'll be moving your arms and/or legs while trying to hold your spine in a neutral position. If you feel a strain in the low back or can’t maintain the neutral position (i.e. your back arches or you’re wobbling), go down a level until you're ready to advance.

Do the following for one to two minutes:

Good: Half-Foam-Roller Marching

  • Lie on a three-foot-long half-circle roller (flat side down and positioned so it runs along your spine, supporting your head to your tailbone)
  • Keeping your back flat, bend your knees with feet flat on the floor
  • Place your elbows on the ground and your hands on your hip bones near your belly button
  • March: Keeping knees at 90 degrees, alternate bringing each knee up to hip level (stop when your knees are at a 90-degree angle with your hips), then lower
  • Monitor your hip bones, keeping them level at all times
  • Don’t let your trunk rock back and forth, and don’t let your back arch

Better: Full-Foam-Roller Marching

Bump it up using a full-rounded six-inch diameter, three-foot foam roller.

  • Lie on the full roller as in the previous exercise
  • With arms off the floor, place hands on both hip bones near the belly button
  • March: Keeping knees at 90 degrees, alternate bringing each knee up to hip level (stop when your knees are at a 90-degree angle with your hips), then lower
  • Don’t let your trunk sway side to side or rock back and forth
  • Don’t let your back arch

Continued

Best: Full-Foam-Roller Alternating Arm And Leg Lifts

If that last one didn’t make you seasick -- let’s Best It with this one!

  • Same position on a full foam roller as above
  • Perform marching movement with one leg at a time, lifting the opposite arm over your head at the same time
  • Continue alternating opposite arm and leg for two minutes
  • Don’t let your trunk sway side to side or rock back and forth
  • Don’t let your back arch

Always check with a physician before starting any exercise program.

WebMD Feature from Turner Broadcasting System
© Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.

Pagination