Foam Roller Exercises


Foam rollers can be used for many reasons: to increase flexibility, reduce soreness and eliminate muscle knots. Below are some tips on how to use them properly, followed by specific exercises you can try with your child.


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Tips for Helping Your Child Use a Foam Roller

  1. For each exercise below, slowly roll back and forth as described for 20 to 30 seconds to start and up to 5 minutes per exercise. 
  2. Your child should not move more than 1” per second. 
  3. As your child rolls, tell them to take deep, slow breaths to help their muscles relax. 
  4. Always be careful that your child doesn’t roll onto their joints and bony areas such as the kneecap.
  5. The roller should stay positioned under the muscles at all times. 
  6. If your child hits a particularly tight or tender spot, they should stop rolling and apply direct pressure for 5-30 seconds, then rock that area back and forth slightly until the pain subsides.


Upper Back Exercises 

Helps Thoracic Spine Issues 

Start: Rest the back against the broad side of a roller positioned underneath the shoulder blades. Bend the knees so feet are flat on the floor. Lift buttocks and place hands behind head, or cross arms over the chest.

Roll: Keeping core muscles tight, slowly roll forward and back so that the roller moves up and down between the middle of the back and the top of the shoulder blades.

Tip: Don’t tilt the head forward to look at the legs while rolling. This may place stress on the spine. Keep the head and neck in line with the back at all times.


Quadriceps Exercises

Helps Patellar Tendonitis/Osgood-Schlatter Disease

Start: Lie face down with the roller positioned directly under the thighs. Bend the elbows so that the forearms are flat on the floor to support the weight—the feet should be suspended above the floor as shown.

Roll: Keeping the abs drawn in and core muscles tight, use the arms to gently roll the body forward and back to move the roller up and down from the pelvic bone to just above the knees.

Tip: To increase the intensity, stack the feet to roll one quad at a time.


Iliotibial (IT) Band Exercises

​Start: Position the left hip against the broad side of a roller on the floor. Cross the right leg over the left as shown, and put both hands on the ground for support.

Roll: Using the left arm to assist the motion, roll the thigh back and forth over the roller from just below the hip to above the knee. Continue rolling for the allotted time, then switch positions to work the right leg.

Tip: If you need more pressure to loosen things up, stack the legs, but keep in mind that it will be harder to stay stable.


Glute Exercises

Start: Sit on the floor with the legs straight. Extend the arms to lift the glutes, place the broad side of a foam roller under the buttocks, and bend one leg and angle the body so one side bears the brunt of the weight.

Roll: Move the glute back and forth across the roller (keep in mind that the range of motion will be small). When the time is up, shift the weight to the other side and repeat.

Tip: Press through the palms and move through the shoulders to shift forward and back.


Hamstring Exercises

Start: Sit with the legs extended and the broad side of a roller positioned directly under the thighs. Place hands flat on the floor behind for support.

Roll: Using the arms to initiate the motion, slowly roll back and forth to move the roller up and down from the bottom of the glutes to just above the knees.

Tip: Try rotating the legs in and out from the hips. This will hit the hamstrings more thoroughly.


Calf Exercises

​Start: Sit on the floor with the roller underneath the calves. Place the hands on the floor behind and raise buttocks off the floor. All of the body weight should be on the hands and the roller.

Roll: Slowly roll forward and back to move the roller up and down from just below the knees to above the ankles.

Tip: To up the intensity, do the move one side at a time by stacking the legs. To change the emphasis, try turning the feet in or out while rolling.


Shin Exercises

Start: Get on hands and knees on the floor, with the broad side of the roller placed underneath the shins. Hands should be positioned just in front of the shoulders on the ground, and the heels rotated slightly outward.

Roll: Shift the weight forward, bringing the shoulders in front of the hands, to move the roller from the ankles to just below the knees.

Tip: Don’t roll directly onto the knees as this can cause discomfort and make injuries worse.


Adductor (Groin)​ Exercises

Start: Lie on stomach with one leg extended slightly to the side, knee bent. Place the roller in the groin area of the extended leg and roll the inner thigh.

Roll: While on the elbows, shift the weight side to side, to move the roller in and out of the upper and lower groin.

Tip: Press through the elbows/forearms and move through the shoulders to shift side to side.


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