Exercises With Foam Roller & Benefits of Foam Roller Exercises

As we age, we lose elasticity in our joints and connective tissues, and all of a sudden we can end up feeling pain while performing even the simplest of tasks, such as walking up the stairs. As per a research, it is found that a massage can reduce stiffness and soreness by more than 40%. However, there is even a better way to banish aches or pains. A Foam roller could be very much essential in reducing pain. There are several exercises that could be performed with foam roller and these exercises help in strengthening each area you go for a stretch. Let us know more about the foam roller and some exercises with foam roller, in the following array of the article.

What is a Foam Roller & What is it Good For?

What is a Foam Roller & What is it Good For?

A foam roller is a simple and inexpensive fitness tool that must be a part of your home gym, because of a several reasons. It is a large “log” made out of foam that helps your body to warm up for exercise and also recover afterward. Being small and lightweight, it takes less space to store a foam roller.

Foam rollers are mostly used by therapists and athletes in order to mimic myofascial release treatments, which are generally used to help reduce muscle immobility and pain. One of the best uses of foam roller is for working out “knots” or trigger points in your muscles. Foam rolling can benefit in reducing tension and relaxing your muscles.

When you perform multiple exercises with foam roller, it helps to engage your muscles and also build up strength. Moreover, because foam roller is unstable, using the tool works your core muscles and also helps in improving balance.

Exercises with Foam Roller:

  1. Foam Roller Exercises for Upper Back or Thoracic Spine:

    • Position a foam roller underneath your shoulder blades and rest your back against the broad side of the roller.
    • Now, bend your knees in a way that your feet are flat on the floor.
    • Lifting your butt, place your hands behind your head or cross your arms over the chest.
    • Slowly, roll forward and back by keeping your core muscles tight, in a way that the foam roller moves up and down between the middle of your back and the top of the shoulder blades.

    TIP: Make sure you do not tilt your head forward to look at your legs as you roll, as this may place stress on your spine. Be sure to keep your head and neck in line with your back at all times.

  2. Foam Roller Exercises for Latissimus Dorsi:

    For doing this exercise, lie on your right side with your right arm extended along the floor, and keep the foam roller directly under your right armpit. Make sure that the roller must be perpendicular to your body.

    • Bending your left arm slightly, place your left hand on the floor for support.
    • Now, roll up and down so that the foam roller moves from your armpit to just above your waist.
    • Once you have finished this, switch to work on your left side.

    TIP: Make sure to keep your thumb of the extended arm pointed up towards the ceiling. This actually puts your arm in a position that aids pre-stretch your latissimus dorsi.

  3. Foam Roller Exercises for Quadriceps:

    • Begin this exercise by lying face down with the foam roller, positioned directly under your thighs.
    • Bend your elbows such that your forearms are flat on the floor in order to support your weight. Your feet should be suspended above the floor.
    • By keeping your abs drawn in and core muscles very tight, use your arms so as to gently roll your body forward and back in a way that the roller move up and down from your pelvic bone to just above your knees.

    TIP: If you want to increase the intensity and really get at that ache, then stack your feet so as to roll one quad at a time.

  4. Foam Roller Exercises for Hamstrings and Glutes:

    Sit with your legs extended in front and the broad side of the foam roller positioned directly under your thighs. Place your hands flat on the floor behind you for support. Using your arms for initiating the motion, slowly roll back and forth in order to move the roller up and down from the bottom of your glutes to just above your knees.

    TIP: As you roll, try to rotate your legs in and out from the hips. This will allow you to hit your hamstrings in a more thorough manner.

  5. Exercises for Ilobiotobial or IT Band with Foam Roller:

    For performing this exercise, position your left hip against the broad side of a foam roller on the floor. Cross your right leg over your left one and put both your hands on the ground for support.

    Now, using your left arm for assisting the motion, roll your thigh back and forth over the roller from just below the hip to above your knee. Continue rolling for the allotted time and then switch positions so as to work your other leg.

    TIP: In case you require more pressure for loosening things up, then stack your legs. However, keep in mind that your stability will be challenged with this.

  6. Exercising the Calves With Foam Roller:

    Keeping the foam roller underneath your calves, sit on the floor. Place your hands on the floor behind you and raise the butt of the floor. Make sure that all your body weight should be on your hands and the foam roller.

    Now, slowly roll forward and back so as to move the roller up and down from just below your knees to above the ankles.

    TIP: In order to up the intensity, do the move one side at a time by stacking your legs. In order to change the emphasis, try turning the feet in or out as you roll.

  7. Shin Workout With Foam Roller:

    For performing the exercise with foam roller for your shins, you need to get on your hands and knees on the floor, keeping the broad side of a foam roller placed underneath the shins. Your hands must be positioned just in front of your shoulders on the ground and heels rotated slightly outward.

    Now, shift your weight forward by bringing your shoulders in front of your hands, so as to move the foam roller from your ankles to just below your knees.

    TIP: Be assured that you do not roll directly on to your knees, as this can cause discomfort and exacerbate injuries.

Benefits of Foam Roller Exercises are Scientifically Backed:

Foam rollers and exercises with foam rollers have scientifically proven benefits. Some of them include the following.

  • One study found that by using a foam roller on your hamstrings, you may significantly increase range of motion after mere 5 to 10 seconds.
  • One more study has found that by using foam roller, you can reduce arterial stiffness, which may indicate an improved flexibility and improved vascular endothelial function.
    It is also found that older woman who used foam rollers for balance training, showed improvements in dynamic balance after mere 5 weeks.
  • You can actually use foam roller on a daily basis to help prevent trouble spots in your muscles from occurring.

Using the Correct Pressure While Foam Rolling is Important:

It is true that the after-effects of exercises with foam roller are really great and you experience less pain, tension and more relaxed muscles. However the actual foam rolling could be really uncomfortable or even painful in case wrong amount of pressure is used.

You need to control the amount of pressure applied and steer clear of pain. It is important to learn how to control the amount of pressure to a mild and tolerable discomfort. While performing exercises with foam roller, you should apply enough pressure so that you feel some tension released, either with constant pressure or by making small movements back and forth. Though you should not be in pain, a mild amount of discomfort could be expected.

Be known that in case you are new to foam rolling then start out gradually with lighter pressure and a shorter session. You can progress to more intense pressure gradually.


Now, we are known to some of the benefits and also the exercises with foam roller, you can begin with some of the foam roller exercises and know or experience the benefits by self. Foam rolling can actually help improve symmetry in the body. Exercises with foam roller will help you release tension from the area, increase blood flow and nutrient and help you develop healthier muscle tissue and a more effective fitness program.

It is best to consult your fitness trainer and begin the exercises.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:March 14, 2018

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