I hope you enjoyed last month’s post about using a half foam roller.
Let’s chat about ways to use the full length foam roller so you can increase mobility and decrease stiffness right in the privacy of your own home.
Rolling out the IT band is one of the more popular uses of the foam roller. Avoid rolling over the bones at your knees. As you roll up toward the hip be sure not to roll over the outer bone (greater trochanter) since a bursa lives under there and doesn’t like getting irritated!
After rolling your IT band, you can roll the space that is between the front and side of the leg. This gets the lateral, or side, aspect of your quads.
Then, flip over onto your stomach and you can roll both quads at the same time. (This also multitasks as a way to increase core control.) Try and keep your abdominal muscles up and in and your neck long. Create a variation by twisting your body to the right so you access the outer left quad and inner right quad then switch sides.
The adductors, or inner thighs, are sometimes a little tricky to roll, but give it a try! This will be a much smaller range of motion of rolling. Find a tender spot and breath for a few breaths, and repeat.
Now we flip for the gluts. Like rolling the IT band, we’ll be careful not to roll over bone. This is a small area that isn’t super easy to target with the roller, but I’m including it for you to try and see if you like it. I prefer using a pinky ball or trigger point ball here because it gets into gluts more directly.
Similar to using a half roller to increase thoracic (mid-back) extension, we can use a full roller. Note that our goal is not to get our head to the ground, but to feel the elongation of the spine.
Core stability and strength
Here is an abdominal progression you may enjoy. This is designed to let you start where you are and progress as appropriate, so don’t get frustrated if you can’t do each exercise.
You will be most stable with your feet and fingers on the ground. Practice breathing here. Inhale for four counts, exhale for six counts as you pull your belly button in towards your spine and lift your pelvic floor up and in.
If that feels stable, let’s start to play with lifting the fingertips off of the ground. Lift one hand off at a time while doing your best to balance on the roller.
Now, try keeping both hands down and seeing if you can lift one foot at a time. Be sure to keep the abdomen down towards the spine and not puffing up towards the ceiling.
Pull a theraband diagonally to fire your core and balance on the roller. Keeping tension on the band, lift one leg and a time. Notice if marching with resistance at the upper body is easier to do than with the fingertips on the ground.
Now, for the challenge! Try lifting your right for off of the ground while lifting your left arm overhead. Replace and switch to the other side.
Want to try a pike? Start in plank position with your shins on the roller. Now pull your abdominal muscles up as much as you can which helps you bring your knees towards your chest. This is also fun to do on a physioball keeping your legs extended.
Stand on one leg. In this photo I’m in a passé, but you could also try this in a low Tree Pose. Lift your roller overhead and back down, repeating to give you a balance challenge.
Warrior 3 is a great balance challenge, especially when you keep your pelvis even. Shown here is the foam roller available for a little extra balance support. (Warrior 3 with roller for balance).
To increase the work the shoulders and upper back need to do in this posture, try balancing with the foam roller out in front of you.
Perhaps you have some new ideas—experiment and let me know what you do!