The text below in italics is an excerpt from my blog post regarding 3 Basic Foam Roller exercises as a recap for reference and convenience. To view that post in its entirety, click the above link.
The Foam Roller is a relatively inexpensive piece of exercise equipment that can really help one feel improved range of motion and reduce muscle tension spots after its use. It is an easy and great home management tool to help people feel better with day-to-day activities by reducing common areas of muscle tension, stiffness, and/or trigger points.
The foam roller is widely used throughout the physical therapy, rehabilitation, and fitness worlds. To be more specific, it is a great way to give oneself a myofascial release. This post will not get into the specifics of what it is physically doing on a cellular level, but will explain some nice, basic exercises that can loosen up tension areas in the body. To learn more about some current theories of what is actually happening on a structural and cellular level with myofascial release on the foam roller, check out this interesting, detailed post from the American Council of Exercise from a few years back by clicking on the above link.
In addition to being a very effective tool that helps “knead out” the common, day-to-day tension areas of the body, it can also be used in a different way to increase the challenge of many core abdominal stabilization exercises and also for releasing tension of the large muscles in the legs. (But these are good subjects for another post!)
And now I’d like to present the 2 new advanced foam roller exercises below.
It is IMPORTANT TO NOTE before performing these advanced exercises, all basic foam roller exercises should be completely comfortable and easy to perform. These exercises should ONLY be done if you are healthy, have good core stability, and you are without any injuries or other medical conditions. Consult with your licensed medical or health professional prior to doing these, or any other exercises, if you are unsure if you are a good candidate.
2 Advanced Myofascial Release & Mobility Exercises on the Foam Roller
1. Horizontal Foam Rolling:
Start with the foam roller in a perpendicular position to your body. Place the foam roller along the upper mid-back region. You will reclined on the foam roller with your pelvis on the ground, your knees bent, and your feet flat on the ground. You should gently engage your deep abdominals. Place your hands behind your head to support your head and neck.
Keeping your deep abdominals contracted, lift your pelvis off the floor by pushing up through the backs of your legs. Your body should be parallel with the floor surface. Now gently roll the roller up and down the upper mid-back region (where the ribs are located). Allow the roller to roll up your upper mid-back, by bending your knees and pulling with the back of your leg muscles. To return, allowing the roller to roll down to the mid-back region, by moving your legs back into a less bent knee position using the front of your leg muscles.
You should keep your deep abdominals gently engaged to support your body and also use a regular breathing pattern while performing to encourage relaxation. Make sure not to roll too far. You should always have complete control of the roller. This exercise should be performed slowly and carefully and it should feel relaxing and relieving in nature. If it is uncomfortable in any way, it should be discontinued and should not be performed.
You should focus on those upper mid-back regions that feel tight and or stiff. Gently roll up and down up to 4-5 times, if it is comfortable.
2. Upper Back (Thoracic) Extension Stretch:
Starting position is the same as in the exercise described above.
You will be reclined on the perpendicularly placed foam roller with your pelvis on the ground, your knees bent, and your feet flat on the ground. You should gently engage your deep abdominals. Place your hands behind your head to support your head and neck.
Keeping your abdominals gently engaged, you will gently arch your upper mid-back region over the foam roller wherever the upper back feels tight and stiff. You should use a regular breathing pattern while performing to encourage relaxation. Most people prefer to inhale as they arch backward, and then exhale on the return movement.
You can move the roller up or down slightly around your upper mid-back to target different places. This exercise should be performed slowly and carefully and it should feel relaxing and relieving. If it is uncomfortable in any way, it should be discontinued and should not be performed.
You should focus on those upper mid-back regions that feel tight and or stiff. Gently extend (arch) over the roller as described above 4-5 times, only if this is comfortable.
I hope you enjoyed these two new advanced exercises to address muscle tension and stiffness in the body. They work amazingly well for those who tend to feel too stiff and tight and can really help improve standing posture with time! Have fun!
Thanks for reading!
Look for my Foam Roller post in the future where I will be explaining deep abdominal stabilization while on the foam roller.
Would you like to learn more about about Dr. Magda Boulay, DPT, a physical therapist and Pilates instructor and her practice, P.ilaT.es-Physical Therapy & Pilates, and how she can help you? Click on this link to sign up for a free 15-minute discovery phone call to see if P.ilaT.es is the right fit to address your needs!
PLEASE NOTE! This blog post is meant for educational and instructional purposes only. This exercise is a wellness exercise only, and it is not medical advice. This post is not a substitute for professional medical consult, evaluation, & or treatment. If you have a current injury or condition, please consult in person with a licensed medical professional before attempting or starting this, or any other exercise program.