The foam roller is a useful tool for improving flexibility, balance, strength and muscular awareness.
For starters, the rolling motion allows for release of muscle tightness in muscles that are difficult to reach with ordinary stretches. The elevation of the foam roller allows for increased extension in the shoulder and chest area allowing for a better stretch. In addition, the unstable cylindrical shape of the roller provides a challenging environment for abdominal strengthen exercises.
For proper use, avoid rolling on tendons, joints and bony structures.
For each rolling exercise hold the position on the roller where the tension is felt until the tight muscle releases or for 1 minute, whichever occurs first.
Here are a few foam rolling exercises to try:
Learn More about Foam rolling by viewing this PDF.
Turkish Get Up
NOTE: this is a very advanced functional fitness exercise.
Preparation: Lying on the floor, safely move the weight into a locked out position straight up with your right hand. Your shoulder should be tight in the socket. Your right leg will be cocked, your right foot alongside your left knee.
1. Pushing off your right foot, roll onto your left hip and up onto your left elbow. Keep your eyes on your weight at all times.
2. Push up onto your left hand.
3. Holding yourself up on your left hand and right foot, bring yourself up off the ground, and thread your left leg back to a kneeling position. You are now left knee on the floor, right foot on the floor, and weight locked out overhead in your right hand. As stated, your arm should be locked out. You will be stronger in this position than in a flexed position, where the muscles would be doing all the work. This is a whole body exercise and particularly a shoulder developer, it is not meant to tire your arms out.
4. From the kneeling position take in a deep breath, tighten up, and lunge forward to a standing position.
5. Reverse the process to come back down to the floor and switch sides.
Works: Full body strength, stability and conditioning. This includes single leg hip stability, shoulder stability and mobility, thoracic extension and rotation, hip and leg mobility and active flexibility, the ability to link movement created in our extremities to the rest of our bodies
When first learning these movements it is best to practice with either bodyweight or a very light object until basic form is mastered. Just because you may be strong, don't think you can just pick up a heavy weight and start doing this, as you may be setting yourself up for injury.
Preparation- grab a dumbbell/kettlebell/sandbag in one hand
1. Keeping chest tall, step forward to execute a lunge. The trail knee should not touch the ground
2. The front knee should travel forward directly over but not past the toes. Keep your head up and look straight ahead.
Works: quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings and core.