Foam Roll 2.0 – Six Drills for Improved Performance NOW

The foam roller has had its ups and downs as a piece of equipment. At one point being relatively unknown, transitioning to being on the news, in books, and sold in just about every store. Now with the plethora of research coming out showing the minimal benefits with its traditional usage, it is often getting left in the corner it was once competitively taken from.

While doing some soft tissue work has its place, much of it has been over prescribed and lacked the long lasting benefit we wish it had. Today we are going to take you through a variety of exercises that utilize the foam roller to maximize your performance in a specific way outside of doing soft tissue work.

Need: Shoulder Mobility & Overhead Lifting Strength

Serratus slide & lift off

Why: Lifting overhead can be a battle for many people. Whether you’re lacking in the required mobility, stability, or motor control to do so, this exercise can help you. By utilizing the roller we can have a guiding force in the movement and help encourage more serratus anterior activation. The serratus is one of the big players in moving your shoulder blade to go overhead. At the end of the motion we incorporate a lift where we focus on upward rotation and posterior tilting the scapula. This helps to open up the shoulder and reducing that pinching feeling a lot of athletes get when they go overhead in movements like – strict press, push press, snatching, etc.

Need: Core Strength & Control

Roller body saw

Why: In most activities our trunk is utilized as a rigid lever to help transfer force from our legs to our arms, or vice versa. Essentially the roller body saw is a bad ass version of a plank where we place our shins on the roller and push our body out. As we move away from our elbows, the lever arm is changed and a higher demand is placed upon our trunk musculature to stabilize.

Need: Thoracic Spine Extension

The foam roller thoracic extension is a classic drill for improving thoracic mobility. If you spend a lot of time seated and bent over, this can leave you with a flex thoracic spine; that can make overhead lifting really difficult. This is a good starting point for thoracic mobility, particularly working on thoracic extension. However, drills targeting thoracic rotation can often be of a great benefit as well.

Need: Thoracic Spine Rotation

Banded thread the needle

Why: For some people the thoracic spine can be their nemesis and be a real limiting factor in good lifting. If you’ve been working on thoracic extension with little improvement, give some rotation a shot. In order to go overhead or get in a good front rack we want to get thoracic extension, but due to the anatomical make up, rotation is often beneficial to help work on and improves extension. With this exercise we can work on improving rotation mobility and control as the band helps to pull into deeper ranges, and then provides resistance on the way back to neutral.

Need: Pec Length

Eccentric DB fly on roller

Why: Stiff pecs aren’t fun and a lot of people who spend time sitting for extended periods through the day deal with them. Sitting at a desk job hunched over your computer for 8 hours a day for weeks, months, or even years can leave a lot of people with some stiff chest muscles. Without addressing this, some individuals may even get neck and shoulder pain. Here we are utilizing the roller to allow the shoulders to open up, allowing the pecs to lengthen out and decrease the perception of tightness.

Need: Glute Activation

Half Kneeling Hip Extension with Foam Roller Assist

Why: Glutes just not helping the way you want in your movements? Unfortunately many people can deal with glute issues due to stiff hip flexors. The glutes are strong hip extensors and kick into gear when we are doing stuff like standing from a seated position or finishing a deadlift. If your hip flexors are stiff, you may be finding yourself trying to arch your back instead of extend your hip in a lot of situations. By utilizing this exercise we can target the glutes to fire into hip extension without any compensation through the low back.

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