Help students integrate the work they did in class.
The foam roller, now a standard piece of equipment, is an excellent tool for massaging soft tissue, realigning the spine, increasing core stability and enhancing postural awareness. Using the foam roller at the end of a group exercise class is a great way to “reset” and encourage a progressive cool-down where the focus is on breathing and overall relaxation. A standard-length foam roller (3 feet by 6 inches) works best for this purpose. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind:
- Roll about 3–6 inches at a time, using slow, controlled strokes. Spend about 30–60 seconds on each area.
- Maintain proper spinal alignment and correct posture while rolling, particularly in the shoulder and neck areas.
- Be cautious, as some areas may be painful to roll. Tell students not to roll if bruising occurs or if they experience intense pain.
- Choose softer rollers for people who may be more sensitive to pressure. Rollers come in a variety of densities.
- • Immediately stretch the massaged area to take advantage of the increased circulation.
Gluteals and Seated Figure 4
- Sit on foam roller, lean right slightly, and load body weight.
- Using small strokes, gently roll back and forth on gluteal and hip area.
- Stretch: Place R ankle over left thigh.
- Repeat on opposite side.
- In prone position, place roller under R thigh, allowing L leg to splay out.
- Use arms and R foot to roll, with controlled strokes, up and down front of thigh.
- Start at hip flexor area and move down leg toward knee. Do not roll directly over knee joint.
- Stretch: Lie on L side, grasp R foot and flex knee to bring it closer to hamstring.
- Repeat for L leg.
- Sit with legs extended.
- Place foam roller under both calves (or just one at a time).
- Engage core, lift body, and load weight onto arms.
- Roll out calves from knee joint down to ankle, and then perform calf stretches.
Supine Spinal Alignment With Scissor Arms
- Place edge of roller directly under tailbone (roller extends behind you lengthwise), and lie back so entire spine, including head, is supported.
- With feet about hip-distance apart, flat on floor, flex knees and bring arms straight up over shoulders toward ceiling, palms facing.
- Slowly scissor arms: Let one arm/hand fall back behind head toward floor, while other falls down by side.
- Continue to scissor arms, moving through pain-free range of motion that is easy to control.
- Variations: Abduct arms to sides of body, or move one arm at a time.
Supine Bridge and Leg Series
- From same position as above, slowly move into bridge: lifting hips first, then lower back and finally midback.
- Hold position at top of movement (with gluteals), take deep breath, exhale and slowly bring body back to roller, one spinal section at a time in reverse order.
- Repeat, matching movement with breath, 3–6 reps.
- Stabilize body by placing one foot and both hands on floor while lifting opposite leg straight up toward ceiling.
- Point and flex ankle as you slowly and with control lower leg until it reaches floor. Focus on maintaining leg length, moving with control and keeping spine on roller.
- Repeat 2×–3×; switch sides.
When you’ve finished, have participants roll off and lie supine on the floor. Guide them through a 60-second meditation, encouraging them to breathe deeply and focus on feeling their body weight supported by the floor, bringing attention to their long, extended limbs and relaxed spine.