Use the Foam Roller to Release, Stand Taller, and Work Deeper

By On August 14, 2014 · Leave a Comment

Pilates mat work is such low maintenance. All you need is a bit of floor space! However, in seeking that proverbial spice of life, your Pilates workout can become much more varied with the introduction of props. Exercises can become easier, more challenging, or completely transformed. Of all the beautiful and ingenious props used in Pilates, the foam roller is by far my favorite!

Open your pectorals with the goal-post position on the foam roller!

Open your pectorals with the goal-post position on the foam roller!

The roller is so varied it its uses: it can roller out tight fascia, release tight muscles and open up joints, assist in as well as challenge your balance, and create a greater challenge in performing the classic, well-loved exercises.

Helping the Body to Release Tension

I have seen radical changes to hip and shoulder alignment after a client consistently rolls out tight fascia and muscle around these joints. Use the roller to release by rolling out the neck, upper back, shoulders, iliotibial band, quads, glutes, inner thighs, and hamstrings. Additionally, lying on the roller long-wise with it beneath your spine will allow you to open up those tight pectorals. Move your arms in the largest circular motion you can, and then hold the goal-post or stick-‘em-up position with your arms (make a 90 degree angle with your elbow and have your palms and underarms face the ceiling).

Use your foam roller to release your hip flexors.

Use your foam roller to release your hip flexors.

You will get one of the best hip flexor releases if you place the foam roller horizontally underneath your bum while you are lying down. Take one knee to the chest as you reach your other leg straight over the roller and to the floor. Take the bent knee across the body for a spine stretch. Take both legs into the air and move them in small or large circles to open up the hip joint even more.

Improving Your Balance

Like a muscle, our balance only improves with use. However, if our balance is already severely compromised, it can be scary to use it. Stand the roller upright and use it as a bar while performing balance work, such as standing on one leg. It is supportive, but not too supportive.

Challenge your balance and abdominals with a roll up while on the foam roller!

Challenge your balance and abdominals with a roll up while on the foam roller!

Looking for more challenge than support? Lay the roller on the floor and stand on it while performing balance work! To challenge the abdominals while improving your balance, lie on the roller long-wise with it along your spine and lift one or two limbs at a time. Perform abdominal exercises with your legs in the air while lightly holding on to the floor. When you are done, don’t roll off the roller to the side, but rather perform a roll-up to come to a sitting position.

Finding a Deeper Challenge

Use the foam roller to challenge yourself even more with the exercises you already know. Perform bridges with the roller Planking with a foam roller!beneath your feet. Place it beneath your shins and hold a plank. Then try pulling your knees to your chest making a ball with your body. Next, try piking your bum to the sky, keeping your legs straight as the roller comes to your arms. You can also place the roller beneath your forearms and perform the plank, and then add movement by rolling the roller away and returning it.

To bring all these benefits and more to my clients, I regularly incorporate the roller and other props into my mat classes. Do you have a favorite prop? Let us know by adding a comment below!

Happy rolling!Pike on the foam roller for a deep abdominal challenge!

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