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

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
  • Stretch: Place R ankle over left thigh.
  • Repeat on opposite side.

Quadriceps Rolling

  • In prone position, place roller under R thigh, allowing L leg to splay
  • 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.

Calf Rolling

  • 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

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
  • 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

Irene Lewis-McCormick, MS

"Irene McCormick, MS, is the 2018 IDEA Instructor of the Year and the senior director of fitness education for Orangetheory Fitness® in Boca Raton, Florida. Former adjunct faculty at Drake University, Irene is a master course instructor for TRX®, a lead conference educator for WaterRower®, a Savvier Fitness master trainer, a Ryka® brand ambassador and an award-winning conference educator. She has also written two books, and is a subject matter expert for ACE, NASM, Human Kinetics and Orangetheory."

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