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Most of us are guilty of excessive time spent sitting. Not only does excessive sitting increase our risk of chronic disease such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer, it also leads to a host of postural problems:
Common postural dysfunctions
But fear not. In most cases these dysfunctions are reversible and a foam roll is a great tool for the job. Below are three easy foam roll posture exercises you can start today!
3 easy foam roll posture exercises:
Foam roll extensions help to restore normal movement to the thoracic spine (mid-back). To perform:
- Lay down with your arms behind your head and the foam roll perpendicular to your spine at the base of your neck.
- Keeping your chin tucked, slightly lift your hips and extend over and roll your spine down the foam roll.
- Repeat 8-10 times
- Alternatively, keeping your hips on the floor and without rolling down the spine, perform 3-5 isolated extensions over the roll. Then move the roll down 1-2 spinal segments and perform 3-5 more extensions over the roll. Repeat this process all the way down the middle back until you reach the lower ribs.
Like the foam roll extensions, the foam roll upper back cat helps improve mid-back motion but also opens up the chest and shoulders. To perform:
- Kneel on the floor with hips back towards your heels and forearms on a foam roll (as shown).
- First, round your middle back up and breathe in. Then, as you breathe out, let your chest fall towards the floor in an arch shape.
- You should `feel’ this in your mid-back especially when you let your back fall to the floor.
- If you feel this in your lower back move your buttocks closer to your heels – this will limit the movement in your lower back and isolate the stretch to your middle back
- Repeat 8-12 times, 2-3 times per day
Foam roll angels help to correct the rounded shoulders posture and stretch tight pectoral (chest) muscles. It is also a good position to help to the restore proper abdominal breathing pattern. To perform:
- Lie on your back on the foam roll with your hands at your side and palms facing upwards.
- Gently tuck your chin to lengthen the back of your neck – stretching the suboccipitals. (If you are very rounded through the mid back you may need a small pillow under your head.)
- Bring your ribs down to flatten your lower back (but do not tense your abdomen).
- Slowly breathe in and out for 3-20 minutes feeling your shoulders drop towards the floor with each exhalation.
- As your chest and shoulders relax you can slowly move the arms higher (second image), but only move as far as you can keep the forearms on the floor.
- One efffective variation is to gently push the arms into the floors as you breathe in and then relax the arms as you breathe out.
This largely comes down to personal preference and what you are planning to do with it. We like the 66fit EVA foam roll. It is a high quality roll, soft enough to make it comfortable for the posture exercises above but firm enough for other uses such as muscle rolling.
You can find even more posture exercises below:
*Images reproduced from Liebenson. C., Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies
This post was written by Steffen Toates. Steffen is a chiropractor at Dynamic Health Chiropractic in Jersey, Channel Islands. For more information about Steffen click here.