A Foam Roller's curved, forgiving yet firm surface can be used in a variety of ways to stretch, strengthen, release your fascia, and create more body awareness. Is it any wonder that Pilates instructors are incorporating Foam Rollers into their Mat and Pilates apparatus workouts?
Amy Havens, a Pilates instructor based in Santa Barbara, California, is a fan. “The Foam Roller helps you access more connections in your deep core muscles and boosts stability and mobility,” she says. “It also highlights which areas or sides of your body need the most work, enabling you to balance it out,” she adds.
Some of the ways Havens uses the Foam Roller in her Pilates Mat classes include lying on the Foam Roller, placing the Roller under the soles of feet or the hips in a Bridging exercise, or sitting propped up on the Roller. Incorporating the rounded surface into traditional and not-so-traditional Pilates Mat work creates additional stability, coordination, and balance challenges.
Here’s a breakdown of some of the most common ways you’ll see a Foam Roller being used in a Pilates Mat class.
Foam Rollers are available in several sizes, firmnesses, and even shapes (half or full round). They are sold online, in specialty stores, and some physical therapy offices. Softer rollers can be more forgiving and gentler on the muscles if you are using one primarily for rehabilitation or relaxation. If you’re doing the Mat exercises described above, you’ll want to look for a firmer Foam Roller.
Rollers are a great prop for a home exerciser because they are relatively affordable and when stored upright, they don’t take up much space. Their lightweight foam construction means you can also mount them on the wall with the right hardware. You can also roll them under a sofa or bed when not in use. Just make sure they don’t roll out and trip up an unsuspecting family member or friend.
If you are intrigued but not ready to invest in another Pilates prop at the moment, you can experiment with some Foam Roller substitutes, which should work for many traditional Foam Roller exercises. You can try an Overball, a rolled up beach towel, a yoga block, or a couch cushion or bolster, or some combination of all of them.
Do you have a favorite Foam Roller exercise or movement? Let us know in the comments below.