Simple Cues for Foam Roller Use

Over my career I have instructed to people who in some cases just don’t “get it”.  I explain a movement – it doesn’t register.  I talk about progression, or balance, or form – and something is lost in translation.

Imagine if you were giving instruction to someone who didn’t know English very well at all.  Now your powers of communication are stretched, so you need to get the point across.

Recently, I needed to explain the benefits of a basic foam roller to an employee with limited skills in English – let along almost no knowledge of exercise principles.  I needed to make a point to show her a few types of exercises she could do to alleviate some pain in her hip are and mid-back.  I talked her through a few types of roller stretches, and even demonstrated.  She tried them out, and we both agreed that if she could use the foam roller, she would be in a better place.  I had two versions – one full roller (round version), and one that was cut in half like a French roll. 

The question – how to give her information that she could retain and continue to use.  Then a flash of brilliance!  Put it on the foam roller.  Below are drawn three (3) versions of roller stretches that our client has (literally) drawn out for her to use at home.

The first is a simple roll stretch for the outer hip / hip bone area.  As most trainers know – this stretch / roll puts pressure on the hip socket, and works its way down the IT band to create pressure point, but also flush the area and put pressure on tendons and other areas including fascia. 

The second area is a basic roll through the low back and hip area, concentrating on the lumbo-sacral area (and its fascia), and through the glute area.  This is an important roll as much of the tension and pressure of sitting (the new smoking) is concentrated here, and rolling this area out every day is important.  Massage therapists and trainers will also note that many people who sit for long periods have problems with the ligaments around the lumbo-sacral area.  Using this roll / stretch is important to release some of the tension and pressure and reduce some of the pain due to prolonged sitting (or standing).

The third stretch is to use the full foam roller, or the one I cut in half to put in the mid / upper back area for a stretch.  As seen on the foam roller – I’ve even written out on #3 to stretch and hold.  This is a great stretch that keeps suppleness throughout the spine and allows the client to look at the actual roller for a refresher as to how to do the exercise.  

The foam roller is a great exercise, pain reduction, movement, relaxation, and stretching devise.  It adds a lot to the exercise regime.  Using only a few types of exercises can make a big difference in performance, range of motion, and recovery.  It’s evident in the number of programs that now use the foam roller.  From basketball to water polo to gymnastics to senior wellness – it is becoming indispensible in its uses. 

For more information on the foam roller – check out the following sites.