4 “Must Do” Foam Roller Exercises

As physiotherapists, we are often asked by patients about foam rollers… “do they work?” and “how do I use them?

Our answer is YES they do work but only if you use them! Today we look at 4 MUST DO exercises on your foam roller.

Hamstrings

Hamstring Foam Roller Exercises

Why?

More flexibility in your hammies will help with many everyday and sporting activities like bending, squatting, kicking and running. It will also go a long way to preventing or reducing your lower back pain!

What to do:

  1. Sit on a foam roller with your legs outstretched, and support yourself by placing your hands on the floor behind you
  2. Position yourself so the roller is directly under your hammies
  3. Slowly roll forwards and back from your glutes to the back of your knee for 30-60 seconds
  4. Try it with your feet turned out and then with your feet turned in to work your hammies from all angles

Iliotibial band (outer thigh)

Iliotibial Foam Roller Exercises - Revive Physiotherapies and Pilates

Why?

Tightness in the ITB can leave you prone to developing pain behind your kneecap and through the lateral (outer side) of your knee; also known as patello-femoral pain syndrome and ITB friction syndrome. Less tension in the ITB can help avoid these syndromes from developing.

What to do:

  1. Lie on your side with the roller under your outer thigh
  2. Cross your other foot over
  3. Roll back and forth for 30-60 seconds from the bottom of your hip to just above your knee

Quads

Quad (Quadricep) Foam Roller Exercises - Revive Physiotherapies and Pilates

Why?

A loss of flexibility in your quads can lead to issues with running, kicking,  and can leave you prone to developing issues with your patella tendon. Looser quads can help reduce the tension on the quad’s tendon and make it easier to extend your hip and bend your knee.

What to do:

  1. Lie on your front with the roller placed under your thighs
  2. Support your upper body on your forearms
  3. Roll yourself back and forth from hip to mid-thigh for 30-60 seconds

Upper back

Upper Back Foam Roller Exercises - Revive Physiotherapies and Pilates

Why?

Pain from sitting in front of a computer all day is far too common a complaint for many office workers and students. This can result in a rounding of the upper back and shoulders.  This can also occur when chest muscles are overdeveloped in relation to back muscles. Using the foam roller can help reverse this and open up the chest and stretch out the upper back.

What to do: 

  1. Lie on your back and place the foam roller beneath your upper back, near your shoulder blades
  2. Support your body with your feet. Lift your buttocks off the floor
  3. Place your hands behind your head and slowly work the roller for 30-60 seconds. Roll from between your shoulders to where your ribcage ends
  4. Alternatively you can position the roller at any location from the shoulders to where the ribcage ends, and hold the stretch at that location without rolling
  5. Again do this for 30-60 seconds and repeat as ended

Remember if you are experiencing pain or if using the foam roller is making your condition worse, cease using it immediately and contact your physio for further advice. If you have anymore questions regarding the use of your foam roller and other appropriate exercises, again, speak to your physio.

At Revive Physiotherapy and Pilates, we stock good quality foam rollers that will last. We have both long and short lengths for you to choose from.