Exercise Tips

Previ Fitness: Foam Roller Routine

Foam rolling is becoming a staple in various types of training programs due to its ability to increase mobility, range of motion, reduce knots, and improve overall quality of movement. Everyone from the seasoned athlete to the exercise novice can see benefits from utilizing foam rolling. They are inexpensive and almost every gym has them readily available. So pick one up and try the routine below, or ask our PreviMedica exercise specialists to show you how to utilize this versatile tool.

foam-roller-exercise-1-of-5-1Foam Roll – Gastrocnemius

Preparation:

Sit on the ground with your legs straight and calves on top of the roller. Using your arms press yourself up so that your buttocks are hovering over the ground.

 Movement:

From this starting position roll back and forth keeping knees locked. Focus the pressure on the back and sides of the calf just above the ankle. Roll for 30-60 seconds. To increase the pressure try stacking one leg on top of the other rolling only the bottom leg. To further increase the pressure, actively dorsiflex the toes (pull them toward your shin) to place the gastrocnemius on stretch.

foam-roller-exercise-1-of-5-2

Foam Roll – Soleus

Preparation:

Sit on the ground with your legs straight and calves on top of the roller. Using your arms press yourself up so that your buttocks are hovering over the ground.                               

Movement:

From this starting position roll back and forth keeping knees unlocked. Focus the pressure on the back and sides of the calf just above the ankle. Roll for 30-60 seconds. To increase the pressure try stacking one leg on top of the other rolling only the bottom leg. To further increase the pressure, actively dorsiflex the toes (pull them toward your shin) to place the soleus on stretch.

foam-roller-exercise-1-of-5-3Foam Roll – Piriformis

Preparation:

Sit on a roller with your hands behind you on the floor. Lean to your left side taking your right hand off the ground. Place your left ankle on your thigh just above your knee. Keep your right foot on the floor.

Movement:

From this starting position roll back and forth over the piriformis. Roll for 30-60 seconds then switch sides. Try altering your body position throughout to hit the piriformis at multiple angles.

 

foam-roller-exercise-1-of-5-4Foam Roll – IT Band

Preparation:

Lie on your side on the ground with the roller underneath the outside portion of your thigh. Place the same side elbow (or hand) and the opposite hand/foot on the ground.

Movement:

From the starting position press up and roll back and forth over the outside portion of your thigh. It may help to work from the bottom of the hip to mid-thigh, reposition and then work from mid thigh to just above the knee versus using long broad strokes to hit the entire IT band. Roll 30-60 seconds and then switch legs. To increase the pressure take the opposite leg off the ground or stack it on top of the opposite leg.

foam-roller-exercise-1-of-5-5Foam Roll – Thoracic Spine

Preparation:

Lie on your back with a foam roller placed  in the middle of your back. Your feet should and buttocks should  be on the ground, with hands behind your head.

Movement:

From this starting position, slowly extend the upper back. DO NOT extend the lower back; it may help to think of bracing the stomach to ensure that the movement comes from the upper back. Slowly work the roller up and down the back repeating the extension at the various spine levels (Cervical and Lumbar).


If you’re interested in a personalized fitness assessment and exercise plan, we encourage you to meet with one of our PreviMedica exercise specialists. Contact us at 855-773-8463 or by email at hello@previmedica.com. Happy foam rolling!

Previ Fitness: What Is Foam Rolling?

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Foam rolling has become commonplace among professional athletes and fitness newbies alike. You can now go into almost any gym and see people using a foam roller as part of their routine. So what exactly is it and why is it beneficial?

Foam rolling is one of the modalities used to perform self myofascial release (SMR)– a stretching technique.

SMR targets the nerves and connective tissue beneath the skin that attach, stabilize and separate muscles in the body, which can be negatively influenced by poor posture, repetitive motions, or dysfunctional movements (1). These stressful actions are recognized by the body as an injury, causing it to initiate a repair process (1). This cycle leads to inflammation, muscle spasm, and the development of soft tissue adhesions that can reduce the elasticity of the soft tissues and eventually lead to muscle imbalances and a permanent change in the soft tissue structure. All of this to say that many of our day-to-day activities can eventually lead to reduced flexibility and the potential for injury.

Foam rolling focuses on alleviating these adhesions (also known as “trigger points” or “knots”) to restore optimal muscle motion and function (1, 5). The basics behind utilizing foam rolling is to pick the body part you feel tension in, roll that body part, and when you feel a “knot”,  hold the pressure on that spot for 30 seconds to 2 minutes until a release is felt.

One of the great things about foam rolling is that it is relatively inexpensive and convenient since it can be done at home, the gym, or even your office. Do be aware there are contraindications to practicing foam rolling altogether or avoiding certain areas such as a recent injury site, any joints or bony prominences, or if you have circulatory problems or chronic pain conditions. Always check with your doctor if you have any concerns about utilizing foam rolling.

So where to begin? Our follow-up post will review a few techniques to help you get started. And if you’re interested in more specific suggestions, we encourage you to meet with one of our PreviMedica exercise specialists to receive a personalized stretching and exercise plan. Contact us at 855-773-8463 or by email at hello@previmedica.com. Happy foam rolling!


References

  1. Clark MA, Lucett SL. NASM Essentials of Corrective Exercise Training, Baltimore, MD:Lippincott Williams & Wilkins;2011.
  2. Clark MA, Lucett SL. NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training 4th ed. Baltimore, MD:Lippincott Williams & Wilkins;2012.
  3. Edgerton VR, Wolf S, Roy RR. Theoretical basis for patterning EMG amplitudes to assess muscle dysfunction. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1996;28(6):744-751.
  4. Janda V. Muscle weakness and inhibition in back pain syndromes. In: Grieve GP (ed). Modern Manual Therpay of the Vertebral Column. New York: Churchill Livingstone, 1986.
  5. Reid DA, McNair PJ. Passive force, angle and stiffness changes after stretching of hamstring muscles. Med Sci Sports Exer 2004; 36(11):1944-48.

Previ Fitness: Choosing the Correct Size Stability Ball

Stability (or exercise) balls have become extremely popular for workouts and even to use while sitting at your desk! While they come with many different names, they are an inexpensive piece of equipment that can ramp up all of your exercise efforts. The instability caused by the round surface makes your entire body work harder to maintain balance no matter what exercise you are performing. However, most people are not aware that effectively performing stability ball activities requires the correct ball size.

There are several guidelines to use when selecting the proper stability ball. When sitting upright on a stability ball:

exercise ball

  • Feet should be flat on the floor – with weight evenly distributed.
  • Knees should be level or slightly lower than the pelvis – creating an angle of 90 degrees or slightly greater at the hips and knees (thighs parallel to ground or pointing down slightly).
  • Pelvis, shoulders, and ears should be in a vertical line – the body should not be leaning in any direction (acting as a counterbalance). Try lightly bouncing up and down it will usually produce this alignment.

Stability balls generally come in five different sizes, according to body composition. Height alone is not the only factor in determining ball size! Stability balls are flexible and therefore when selecting a ball, body weight is another important factor to consider.

A general guideline for using height to determine the correct diameter of the stability ball is as follows (this is assuming average body weight that is proportional to height):

STABILITY BALL CHART

If your body weight to height is larger than average, sitting on the stability ball will compress it more. To prevent this, try using the next larger ball size in order to maintain the 90-degree rule.  Another thing to keep in mind is that stability balls do have some adjustability to them. If the angles at the hips and knees are  greater than  or less than 90 degrees, some air can be released  or added to obtain the proper 90 degree leg angle.

You should remember that releasing air from the stability ball will cause the ball to flatten. When the ball has a larger contact area with the floor and the body it becomes more stable. This means that balancing exercises become easier and lose some of the desired effectiveness. Alternatively, adding  more air to the exercise ball will increase the difficulty of balancing and stabilizing, as the contact area decreases;  just be sure not to over inflate your ball (each manufacturer will have suggested guidelines). Additionally, stability balls tend to lose pressure with regular use due to stretching so keep an eye on the inflation level and adjust as necessary.

Now that you know how to pick the proper size stability ball you can feel confident making a selection!  They come in a wide variety of colors, not to mention they are great for increasing balance, strengthening the core and make every exercise (or sitting at your desk!) seem a little more fun. Happy exercising!


If you are interested in learning more about our exercise program and how it can complement your nutrition plan, please contact us at 855.773.8463 or email us at hello@previmedica.com.