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Foam Roller Exercises

Foam roller exercises can help you stretch muscles and tendons to improve range of movement, break down soft tissue scars and adhesions (where muscle, bone or fascia become stuck together) and improve blood flow.

Foam Roller Exercises

While performing the foam roller exercises, a form of self-myofascial release, remember to engage the abdominal muscles and breath slowly. For improving range of movement, perform each exercise for 1 to 2 minutes. If there is a trigger point, then hold the pressure on the spot for 30 to 40 seconds.

The following are a selection of exercises that can be performed with a foam roller:


Calf

  • Sit on the floor with the legs out straight and the foam roller at the base of the calf muscles
  • Lift your buttocks off the ground and support yourself with your hands
  • Place the free leg on top of the leg being exercised
  • Roll the foam roller up and down the length of the calf muscle
  • Adjust your body position to target the inside & outside of the calf

Start & Finish
Calf

Midpoint
Calf

Hamstrings

  • Sit on the roller with it positioned just above the back of the knee on the hamstrings
  • Support your body with hands positioned beneath the shoulders where they stay throughout the exercise
  • Place the free leg on top of the leg being exercised
  • Slide your hips forward & backwards to move the roller over the length of the hamstrings
  • Adjust your body position to target the inside & outside of the hamstrings
Start & Finish
Hamstring

Midpoint
Hamstring

Glutes

  • Sit on the foam roller with it positioned under your glutes
  • Support your body with hands & feet
  • Move backwards & forwards to move the roller over the length of your glutes
  • Adjust your body position to target the right & left glute
Start & Finish
Glutes

Midpoint
Glutes

Tibialis Anterior

  • Kneel on the foam roller positioned at the top of the shins
  • Support your body with hands positioned beneath the shoulders where they stay throughout the exercise
  • Slide the knees forward & backwards so as move the foam roller the length of the shins
  • Move your hips to the left & right so as work the inside & outside of the shins
  • Adjust your body position to target the inside & outside of the shins
Start & Finish
Tibialis

Midpoint
Tibialis

Quads

  • Lie face down on the foam roller with it positioned at the top of your thigh
  • Support your body with hands, forearms & feet
  • Move backwards & forwards to move the roller over the length of your quads
  • Adjust your body position to target the right & left thigh
Start & Finish
Quad

Midpoint
Quad


Hip Flexors

  • Lie face down on the foam roller with it positioned at the top of your thigh
  • Support your body with hands, forearms & feet
  • Move backwards & forwards to move the roller over the length of your hip flexors
  • Adjust your body position to target the right & left thigh
Start & Finish
Hip

Midpoint
Hip

Iliotibial (IT) Band

  • Lie on your side on the foam roller with it positioned just above the knee
  • The top hip must remain vertically above the lower hip
  • Support your body with your hands, forearm & feet
  • Move backwards & forwards to move the roller over the length of your IT band
Start & Finish
IT Band

Midpoint
IT Band

Adductor Longus

  • Lie face up on the foam roller with it positioned under the bent leg just above the knee
  • Support your body with hands, forearms and feet
  • Move sideways backwards & forwards to move the roller from your knee to the groin
Start & Finish
Adductor

Midpoint
Adductor

Tensor Fascia Latae

  • Lie face down on the foam roller with it positioned under your hip
  • Support your body with hands, forearms & feet
  • Move backwards & forwards to move the roller on the front and slightly outside of your upper thigh just below the pelvis
Start & Finish
TFL

Midpoint
TFL

Lower Back

  • Lie face up on the foam roller with it positioned under the outside of the mid back
  • Support your body with your feet
  • Arms folded together on your chest
  • Move backwards & forwards to move the roller form your midback to the top of your pelvis
Start & Finish
Lower Back

Midpoint
Lower Back

Thoracic Spine

  • Lie face down on the foam roller with it positioned under the mid back
  • Support your body with your feet
  • Arms folded together on your chest
  • Move backwards & forwards to move the roller from your shoulders to your mid back
Start & Finish
Upper Back

Midpoint
Upper Back

Foam Rollers

Using your body weight and a cylindrical foam roller you can stretch muscles and tendons, break down soft tissue adhesions, release trigger points, and soothe tight fascia while increasing blood flow and circulation to the soft tissues.

Foam Rollers come in various shapes and sizes. Click on the image opposite to view the different types of Foam Rollers.

Foam RollerFoam Roller

Effect on performance

In a study by Healey et al. (2014)[1] it was found that there is a reduced feeling of fatigue, allowing participants to extend workout time and volume. However, foam rolling did not affect performance.

A study looking at the use of foam roller exercises on the quadriceps MacDonald et al. (2013)[2] found it was an effective treatment to acutely enhance knee joint ROM without a concomitant deficit in muscle performance.

An article, "Do Foam Rollers Work?", by Sonja Ristevski reviews the current research on Foam Rollers' use.

Have a look at the following article on 5 Unusual Foam Roller Exercises.

Conclusion

Based on the work by MacDonald et al. (2013)[2] we may be able to conclude that myofascial release with a foam roller can dramatically increase your range of motion without any adverse effects on strength or performance.


References

  1. HEALEY, K.C. et al. (2014) The effects of myofascial release with foam rolling on performance, J Strength Cond Res., 28 (1), p. 61-68.
  2. MACDONALD, G.Z. et al. (2013) An acute bout of self-myofascial release increases range of motion without a subsequent decrease in muscle activation or force, J Strength Cond Res., 27(3), p. 812-821

Page Reference

If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:

  • MACKENZIE, B. (2013) Foam Roller Exercises [WWW] Available from: https://www.brianmac.co.uk/foamroller.htm [Accessed