Foam rolling is an increasingly common way to release sore muscles and painful trigger points, but many people start off unsure of how to use a foam roller, to fix that we have put together our list of the best foam roller exercises you can do from home and how to do them.

What you are doing when you use a foam roller is known as Self-Myofascial Release (SMR) which basically means self-massage.

Self-massage can also be done using a lacrosse ball or your own hands, but given how easy it to use and transport, we love the foam roller and highly recommend that you either get one or get using it if you already have one!

So, what are the benefits of Foam Rolling

  • Aids muscle repair
  • Alleviates soreness
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Increases blood flow and muscle elasticity which in turn helps with mobility
  • Great relaxation technique
  • Can be done from pretty much anywhere

There was a time when foam rolling only seemed to be done by pro athletes and coaches, it looked a little alien and people were unsure about it, happily those times are long gone and by spending just a small amount of money on a Foam Roller, you can now fairly easily alleviate your own tight muscles and painful trigger points.

Foam rolling is also a really good option for office workers and people sitting at a desk all day long (not just sports people and gym goers) – so especially good in these current times where many people are working from home and prone to poor posture and less than ideal home office setups.

If you are new to Foam Rolling

Considered generally pretty safe to do if you experience tight muscles or regularly exercise, we would however advise that you don’t foam roll if you have a serious injury such as a muscle tear or break, that’s unless advised specifically by your doctor, surgeon or therapist.

Also avoid rolling your smaller joints such as your knees, elbows, and ankles, which could cause you to hyperextend or damage them, and whilst foam rolling may help relieve tension during pregnancy, please make sure that you first get approval from your doctor or midwife.

If you have any doubts, we would love to offer you advice in person as well as to teach you various techniques such as the ones that we have listed below. With all foam rolling, if an area feels especially tight or sore, stop, inhale and exhale and then slowly continue to a pain threshold that you are comfortable with. If it feels too tight or sore, that might be the time to contact your local Physio for advice.

How to Foam Roll and our Top 10 exercises

1. Quads

With so many people living sedentary lives, especially those sat at office desks all day, foam rolling is a great way to get the blood flowing in your legs and your quads are a great starting point.

Technique:

  1. Start in a plank type position with the roller under your quads
  2. Bracing your core and slowly roll down the foam roller until it reaches just above your knees. Then, roll in the opposite direction until you reach your hip flexors
  3. Do this for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times
Quads Exercise on Foam Roller

2. Hip Flexor

Sitting for long periods of time does our hip flexors no good at all, and as good as stretching is, foam rolling is much better!

Technique:

  1. Lie down facing the floor on the foam roller, and then move into a forearm plank position. Make sure the foam roller is underneath your right hip flexor and your left leg is bent comfortably to the side.
  2. Resting on your forearms, roll slowly up and down and side to side on the foam roller, targeting the hip flexor and making sure to find those all important trigger points
  3. Do this for 30 seconds and then switch sides. Repeat this 3 times
Hip Flexor exercise on Foam Roller

3. Piriformis

Another extension to the work already done to help free your tight hips after a long day sat down.

Technique:

  1. Sit with your right glute on the foam roller and your left knee bent
  2. Cross right leg over the left leg and slowly begin to roll the right glute back and forth over the roller
  3. Bend your left knee further to extend the stretch and continue for 30 seconds, repeating on both sides 3 times
Piriformis Exercise on Foam Roller

4. Calves

We love to recommend a good calf stretch, however further to that it’s also well worth completing this foam roller version.

Technique:

  1. Start by sitting on the floor with your legs extended, the foam roller positioned underneath your calves
  2. Lift your body up so your weight is resting on the foam roller and cross your right leg over your left for increased pressure
  3. Slowly roll your left calf back and forth on the foam roller and then switch to the other side
  4. Complete for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times
Calves Exercise on Foam Roller

5. Lats

Otherwise known as your “wings,” tight lat muscles can really negatively impact your posture and trigger multiple other issues. Whilst this can at first be uncomfortable, the foam roller is great of keeping them lose.

Technique:

  1. Begin by lying on your back at a 45-degree angle with the foam roller positioned underneath your right lat. Keep your right leg straight and bend your left leg into a comfortable position
  2. Slowly start to rotating your arm to create a rolling motion on any tender areas
  3. Go for 30 seconds on both sides and repeat 3 times
Lats Exercise on Foam Roller

6. Back Rolling

A great way to end a day hunched over your computer in the office, is to start to free up your back on the foam roller.

Technique:

  1. Start with the roller at base of your neck and have your knees bent with your feet shoulder width apart. Place your hands behind your head, keeping your elbows wide
  2. Lift your bum off the floor and slowly extend your legs to move the foam roller down the back towards the base of your spine
  3. Keep your back relaxed and let the back extend over the roller as it travels down, doing this for 30 seconds, 3 times
Back Rolling exercise on Foam Roller

7. Upper Back Extension

Having too much tension in your upper back is a sure fire way to create bad posture. If that sounds like you, make sure to roll the area out.

Technique:

  1. Begin by lying on your back with the foam roller positioned underneath your upper back. Your knees should be bent with your feet flat on the floor and your arms can either be down by your sides or behind your head
  2. Begin to let your upper back bend over the foam roller so your head moves slowly backwards towards the ground
  3. Continue on slowly, stopping at the point it becomes too hard to go further backwards. Complete 3 sets of 30 seconds
Upper Back exercise on Foam Roller

8. Lower Back Extension

If you’ve worked on freeing up your upper back on the foam roller, you should definitely balance that out with work on the lower back.

Technique:

  1. Place the foam roller in the small of your back, having your head and shoulders on floor and knees bent with feet shoulder width apart
  2. Gently tilt your pelvis forward, trying to get the tailbone closer to the floor and your back wrapping around the foam roller
  3. Return to the starting position without letting you back leave the roller and do 3 sets of 30 seconds
Lower Back exercise on Foam Roller

9. TFL

Another super common area to get tight if you’re in a seated position a lot, is your TFL and as such it should definitely be an area to target in our Top 10.

Technique:

  1. Start by finding the TFL – this sits between the pointy bone at the front of your pelvis and the bony bump on the side of your hip
  2. Lying on your side, find this area on the foam roller and then make small movements up and down around it
  3. Complete for 30 seconds, switch sides and repeat 3 times
TFL exercise for Foam Roller

10. Child’s Pose

A brilliant final foam roller stretch is the child’s pose, which will help as a more general release and very grounding way to complete your foam roller exercise.

Technique:

  1. On your knees, sit back onto your heels with the roller out in front, then place your wrists on the foam roller with your palms facing up
  2. Push the foam roller away from you, keeping palms facing up and drop chest down toward the ground before returning to the starting position
  3. As with the rest of the Top 10, complete 3 sets of 30 seconds
Childs Pose exercise on Foam Roller

Slowly Does It

That’s our Top 10 best foam roller exercises that you can do from pretty much anywhere! We are completely confident when we say that if you incorporate these exercises into your weekly routine, you’ll see (and feel) some great benefits, especially those of you who spend long hours in seated positions!

As with most exercise, we would highly recommend that you take it slowly and feel your way in. At first foam rolling can feel uncomfortable, even painful, so please be cautious around especially sore areas and if in any doubt get in touch with a professional who can help.

This article features Precision Athletica Head of Exercise Physiology – Jason Oei. If you would like more information, or feel you might benefit from a session with one of the Precision Athletica team, you can either come in and see us or work with us online.

How Do I Book An Appointment with Precision Athletica for Help?

We’re taking the health of our clients, members and staff very seriously and our preference would be for you to call to book an appointment so that we can make sure to explain our approach to keeping you safe. You can call our bookings team to schedule a session:

Online Consultations

Evolving with the current environment, we are also now offering online appointments, meaning that we can support anyone who is unable to leave their home. Sessions are done via our state of the art Telehealth system and as long as you have a laptop or tablet with an inbuilt camera, or a phone with camera, we can help! Online consultations would be especially effective for guiding you in how to use your foam roller.

To learn more about online consultations, please call us on any of the numbers listed above.

Purchasing a Foam Roller

Foam rollers are not difficult to find and can be purchased from most sports stores, however as Jason explained in the video above, we strongly recommend the brand Blackroll. We find their products to be hands down the best in terms of quality and effectiveness and after years of replacing equipment too frequently, we’d definitely suggest you at least check them out.

As we have a relationship with Blackroll and their Australian distributer, they have created a bundle package for us that can be purchased online and shipped straight to your door. If you use the code: ATHLETICA15 you will also receive a 15% discount on your online order. CLICK HERE to see the Blackroll pack.

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