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11 Foam Roll Exercises to Improve Your Health

11 Foam Roll Exercises to Improve Your Health

Do you have a foam roll (FR), but don’t quite know what to do with it?

You may have bought one at one point to try to stretch out your back or leg, but it’s now sitting in the corner of your living room – because that is where mine is sitting. There are many different ways to use a foam roll which may help to improve your mobility, stability, strength, and balance.

Self-myofascial release – a foam roll can be used to loosen up commonly tight areas around the body including the iliotibial band, quadriceps, and upper back.

  1. FR: ITB – lay on side and place FR on side of thighs, and use arm to push the body up and down the FR.
  2. FR: quad- lay on stomach and place FR in front of thighs, and use arm to push the body up and down
  3. FR: upper back – lay on back and place FR on back, and use legs to push the body up and down

FR: ITB (1)

FR: ITB (2)

FR: Quad (1)

FR: Quad (2)

FR: Upper Back (1)

FR: Upper Back (2)

FR: Upper Back (3)

Strengthen your core – core exercises can be performed on the floor, but by using a foam roll as an unstable surface, it challenges and engages the core more to keep balanced.

  1. FR plank – place the foam roll on the feet and hands on the floor as if in a push up position. Hold position keeping the spine aligned straight. (Another variation is to use one foam roll)
  2. FR supine marches – while lying on your back, place the FR vertically along the spine. Brace from your abdominals, and march – bringing one foot off the floor at a time.
  3. FR dead bug – while laying on your back, place the FR vertically along the spine. Brace from your abdominals and bring both legs up off the floor with a 90 degree angle at the hips, knees, and ankles.






Extend your stretch – A foam roll can be used as a prop to help intensify a stretch.

  1. FR lat stretch – Start in a quadruped position, then place the FR on your forearm and lean back until stretch in lats is felt
  2. FR pec stretch – while laying on your back, place the FR vertically along the spine. Bring both arms out to the side and try to touch the back of your hands to the floor. The shoulders can be moved up or down to find different pectoral fibers to stretch.
  3. FR hamstring stretch – seated on the floor, place the FR under the heel of one foot. Keeping knee straight, bend from the hips to stretch to hamstring.



FR: Hamstring Stretch

Build your balance – Utilize the foam rolls cylindrical features to help challenge your balance during exercises.

  1. FR rolling lunges – Place foam roll on the back leg. When lunging with the front leg, roll the FR away from you. When pushing back up from the lunge, roll the FR back towards your body.
  2. FR bird dogs – This exercise is performed with 2 foam rolls. In a quadruped position, place one FR horizontally on hands and place the other FR horizontally on shins. Slowly move your opposite arm and leg outward away from the body and hold steady in this position.



FR: Bird Dog (1)

FR: Bird Dog (2)

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Sharon Ho, PT, DPT
Sharon grew up enjoying a variety of sports including swimming, gymnastics, tae kwon do, volleyball, basketball, track & field, and lacrosse. She continues to stay active by working out, hiking, and running. Other personal hobbies include traveling, cooking (and eating), and watching scary movies.
Sharon Ho, PT, DPT

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