What is a foam roller anyway?
It is a roll of firm foam that usually measures 6 inches in diameter, and comes in various lengths. Most people work with a roller that is 24 to 36 inches long. The foam can hold up even with the full weight of the user sitting on top of it.
What exercises can you do with a foam roller?
You can do a variety of stretches and exercises with the help of the foam roller. The key is to roll for a minimum of 30 seconds per exercise. Here are five exercises to get you started:
- Hamstring roll - Sit on the foam roller. Keep your legs straight and off the floor while balancing on your hands. Slowly roll back and forth from the bend in the knees up to the base of the glutes.
- Side leg roll - Lie on your side with the roller under the thigh. Cross the upper leg over the lower one and flatten the foot on the ground. Slowly begin to roll back and forth so that the roller moves from just beneath the hip down to just above the knee.
- Quadricep roll - Lie on your stomach with the roller under your thighs. Raise up on your forearms and keep the abdomen off the ground. Slowly roll from the top of the thighs to just above the knee.
- Upper spinal roll - Lie on your back with the roller under your shoulder blades. Keep your butt and feet on the ground. Roll from just beneath your neck to your middle back.
- Side abdominal roll - Lie on your side with your lower arm outstretched above your head. Place the roller just below your armpit. Cross the upper leg over the lower one and flatten the foot to the ground. Roll from the armpit down to the waist line.
How do I use a foam roller?
A personal trainer can help you develop a full workout routine that uses the roller to its maximum, as well as other low-impact exercises. The trainer can also show you how to use it to warm up and cool down after a major workout.
If you want to learn how to use a foam roller, contact me, Ralph Roberts, personal trainer at the Downtown Athletic Club in Amarillo. If you are interested in other workouts, such as using an exercise ball, resistance bands or simply weights, I can help.