The Foam Roller Workout

3 moves to unwind muscle tension and help you get the most out of exercise.

From the WebMD Archives

Foam rollers put pressure on your muscles, breaking up the fibrous tissue that increases tension and triggers muscle aches.

The workout, called rolling out, also stretches muscles and tendons, boosts flexibility, and, according to certified personal trainer Ashley Borden, can help you get the most out of other exercises you do.

"Rolling out helps increase mobility and range of motion," says Borden, who's worked with Christina Aguilera, Mandy Moore, and Ryan Gosling. She recommends you do these moves before your workouts. Expect to feel some discomfort at first. If the pain is too much, use a less dense or rigid foam roller.


This move eases the tightness that develops in the glutes and hip flexors from sitting for extended periods. "You'll feel immediate relief," Borden says.

1. Sit on the roller with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor, and hands behind you, wrists lined up under your shoulders.

2. Cross your right ankle over your left knee.

3. Tilt your right knee toward the floor, lifting your left glute off the foam roller.

4. Keeping the foam roller under your right glute, slowly move your hips back and forth. This is a micro-movement -- the roller will only move a few inches. One back-and-forth motion equals one repetition.

5. Repeat 10 times. Then repeat on the opposite side.


The foam roller releases tension in your quads and boosts circulation to relieve pain. "The muscles in this area tend to be tight, tight, tight," Borden says.

1. Lie face-down with the roller perpendicular under your thighs.

2. Prop yourself up on your forearms, elbows under your shoulders and legs extended straight out behind you.

3. Keeping your head in line with your spine, chin tucked, tighten your abs and relax your toes.

4. On your forearms, crawl forward until the roller is just above your kneecaps and then crawl backward until the roller is under the top of your thighs.

5. Do three sets of 10 reps.

Upper Back Massage

This massage-like move eases shoulder and back pain.

1. Lie on your back with the foam roller under your shoulder blades.

2. Cradle your head gently in your hands, engage your core, and raise your hips slightly off the floor, creating a straight line from your knees to your shoulders.

3. Using your feet for leverage, slowly roll the foam roller from the top of your shoulder blades to your rhomboids (the muscles at the bottom of your shoulder blades around where the band of a bra would hit). Return to the starting position.

4. Repeat 10 times.

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WebMD Magazine - Feature Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD on May 21, 2015



Janet Hamilton, MA, RCEP, CSCS, registered clinical exercise physiologist; running coach, Atlanta.

Ashley Borden, certified personal trainer, Los Angeles.

© 2015 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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