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Exercising with a Foam Roller

There are two major benefits of lying on a foam roller long ways. The first is to allow the anterior muscles of the chest and neck to gently stretch. The second benefit involves allowing the thoracic spine, or middle back, to relax into a more neutral position. The following gentle movements should be made on a long foam roller with the goal to improve thoracic mobility and gently stretch the rest of the body. Taking a few minutes to lie on your foam roller daily will have long lasting benefits.

In this video, your base posture begins with your head on the roller at one end and your tail bone resting on the opposite end. Elbows are tucked on the floor near the body and the feet are under the bent knees about hip distance apart.  This is the base posture that you’ll return to between each of the movements. Each movement should be done approximately twenty times and paired with your breathing.  Alternate your inhales and exhales with each move. Breathing fully into your rib cage and observing your stomach rise and fall with each breath. Move slow and stop if there is any discomfort.

  • Scrub the floor exercise. Draw 8” circles on floor using more scapula then elbows palms face up. Relax; take several slow, deep breaths. Wax on making small circles in one direction and wax off making small circles in the other direction.
  • Step Two: Snow Angels. Make snow angles with your arms only. Slowly and easily keeping elbows close to the ground and only going as high as comfortable. No clicking, popping or discomfort.
  • Step Three: Passing Arms. Raise the arms above your head. With each breath alternate bringing one arm by the ear and the opposite arm by the hip.
  • Step Four:  Scapula Exercise. Raise arms to ceiling; punch up and back down slowly keeping the back of the head on the roller.  Relax; take several slow, deep breaths. Keep elbows straight; maintain an easy, self-paced tempo.
  • Step Five: Raise both arms above your head and alternate pulling each arm past the center of the roller.
  • Step Six: Wiper Exercise. Extend your legs one at a time keeping a soft bend in the knees. Begin to log roll your knees towards each other. Then allow them roll out, allowing ankles to rest open. Don’t move the heels.
  • Step Seven:  March in place with your knees drawing up and back down.

When the seventh movement is complete, safely transition from the roller to the floor and relax legs straight and feel how your body feels. Many practitioners feel their back sunken into the floor as if the ground has been dug up from around them.


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