Class #1380

Foam Roller Experience

25 min - Class


Amy Havens teaches a Foam Roller workout (she calls it an "experience") that will test your balance and work your abdominals, back, and hamstrings. This is a great workout for dancers or those who want to identify where you are imbalanced in your center. Enjoy this fun workout!
What You'll Need: Mat, Hand Weights, Foam Roller

About This Video


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Hi everyone, I am going to do a foam roller workout, and I don't know if we could even call it a workout so much as an experience. Two pound weights is what I'll be having as well. And I have a dance background as many of you know, and this was key for me in dance training at one point to help me identify where I was imbalanced in my center, and as a dancer, a lot of peripheral skills, but my center was a little weak, I'll go ahead and say. So a few of the exercises I'm gonna do with us today are from my time way back when, but if you have a dancer client or you are a dancer yourself, play with these and a lot of it is gonna be balance work, and we'll be doing things first for our hamstrings. We're gonna get in some balance and some abdominals, and we'll do some back work, but it's all body work, everything, we're all connected, so, piece by piece, just kind of have a little fun with this and let's experience some balance work on the roller.

So I'm gonna lie back and place my arches of my feet on, just take a little moment and feel where your back is on the floor first and I don't want us to flatten our lower back, so you don't have to go into that pelvic tilt right now, in fact, just let your curves be your curves, all of them. I do want you just a little subtle, press with the back of the upper arm and palm into the floor. Chin should be straight up, so you can kinda see a profile here and just acknowledge how you're there on the roller, take a nice deep breath. And when we exhale, there's a very slight extra press in with the feet against the roller, like an ounce of unweighting your pelvis off the mat. You won't see me even move, that's how small I'm gonna start this, and then in back down.

About four of those, exhale, slightly unweighting the sacrum and release. I still wanna have my natural spine or neutral spine. When I say natural spine, I'm keeping my curves, in other words. And then last one, exhale and press. All right so just even that subtle unweighting of sacral placement on the mat has woken up my rear legs.

Now if I go higher, I don't really necessarily need to grip my butt, I'm just gonna place more weight into my feet and aim my shins out over my ankles and in that effort of doing that, I am rising off of the mat but I'm not really thinking about it, I'm just trusting that's gonna happen, so this could be a lot, cramping could happen in your legs so just be ready and then come down. And again I'm not necessarily articulating, I'm just floating up and coming down. Okay and again so as I place weight in my feet, my shins, aiming them out over my ankles. Being mindful not to come so high up on the back of the neck, too high in the shoulders. And coming down, just two more there.

Give a little permission to your legs to slightly spiral in, so as a dancer, I'm patterned to be turned out. I need to condition a little bit, the different pattern of my hamstrings and my leg muscles so I'm slightly thinking of turning in, waking up a little different sensation in my hamstrings and my medial leg. And last time, placing weight on the feet, unweight the sacrum, shins out over the ankles. Now if I stay there, I was gonna add a little bit of gesture with my arms and reaching back. This one I do wanna then give a little more attention to a pelvic tilt, just a little, and now I do want a roll-down, and as I roll across that thoracic spine, I wanna reach more with my fingertips to the wall behind me.

I'm gonna do that a total of four times, so it starts the same way. Place weight in feet, lift the sacrum, shins over ankles. You can make it flow now, lift the arms, add a little more pelvic tilt. Reach the thoracic spine toward the crown of the head, and as we unroll the spine, reach even more through the limbs above the head. I'm really thinking about my dura and my spine there, and two more times, I'm pressing weight.

Lifting shins toward ankles, float the arms, big breath. (exhales air) And unrolling the spine. Reaching my tailbone for that roller and then one last one here, so, very much in tapping into my body, center body, I'm feeling my hamstrings, my abductors, my abdominals. My back muscles, my brain. And articulating down.

All right I realized I just changed my arm gesture there. It's no big deal. Okay cross your ankles, hold your feet and just rock a little bit and cross the other ankle on top as well. Dancers, as we are very flexible in our hamstrings, generally we have long muscles back there, but that doesn't always mean they're strong, so sometimes we have to do some smaller fine movements to strengthen those fibers back. All right so I'm gonna turn the roller now like a hotdog this way.

Place yourself on the very end, all right, so we have warmed up our hamstrings, we wanna add that to help pull the pelvis and move the pelvis out from underneath us and do some rolling back on the roller. Don't do this if you don't want to. The rollers are a little firm, you could also put your mat over the roller to be a little softer on your back. So you need to be at the end so that your head clears this end, I'm five-three and I fit, so if you're taller and you know you're not gonna make it you may choose not to do this roller, so breathing in. And I'm gonna roll back, very slowly, and just feel the weight of these weights in my arm bones.

And I'm gonna roll across my sacrum, through my lumbar through my thoracic, and oh boy. And sit up. So I wanna use those hamstrings a little bit, it's almost like I'm thinking about pulling my heels toward me as I come up and away from me as I roll down. We'll do this four times. All right so again, yeah, this is definitely flashback from way back in the day.

I could not do this at all, I fell off. Very dominant on one side so I had to learn and feel, learn how to feel the weak side and be okay with that it was weak. It's okay. And coming back. (exhaling air) Okay, and one more time, inhaling tall.

Nice and easy as we roll back, just let your bones roll. Let your joints move. Take your arms now up to the ceiling and open them all the way out to the floor, just allow your chest muscles to expand and bring the arms back up, a total of four times, you can move your legs in. Big breath there, let your chest muscles get wide. (exhaling air) Concentrate still though on how well you're balancing on your roller, and last time as we open, I'm gonna have all of us stay here with our arms, yet float them up off of the floor a few inches, so I'm about the height of the roller.

And now I wanna work on some scapula glide, some rhythm of my shoulder blades, so my movement is almost like doing, I'm sweeping, my palms are face-up, if I were in the snow, I might be doing angel in the snow. If you don't know an angel in the snow, you're doing a jumping jack, if you don't know jumping jack, you're just sweeping your arms out toward a T above your head. That's the arm movement but feel what your shoulder blades are doing, really enjoy how they are moving and how they're in contact with the roller surface. We wanna promote that rhythm of the bones and those joints. All with a natural spine.

Let's take one more. And then from there, raise the arms and just bring them all the way down to the floor, okay. So just a little rhythm, I'm gonna do one more rhythm of the arms, and that side learned it as a scissor arm or puppet arms, so if we begin with the arms straight up again, allow the scapula just resting, right, back, not overgripping my upper back muscles. I'm just gonna move one down by my hip and the other one by my ear, but again I'm focusing on my shoulder blade quite frankly, not even where my arm goes but how that shoulder blade, now on this one, how it glides. The bottom tip of it here is moving its way down the side of my ribcage and if it were a flashlight it might even be peeking up to the sky there, so there's a downward and up scoop, in this orientation.

If I were standing it would be different. But if you think about this as your shoulder blades, not really your arms, you may have a new awareness of how they're supposed to move, how they can move, I should say it that way. On your ribs. You wouldn't have to do this with hand weights to make this beneficial, this just feels better for me. You get more feedback.

I'm gonna do one more. Feels so good, and then this arm's gonna come down. All right so let's bring a little more leg lifting in here, get some leg lifting so stay on your weights. Lightly press down, I'm using the palm on my hand, one knee up, the other knee up. All right, that's fun.

Just holding that. Let's just do some four times knee extension, and bend. Don't even have to over point your toes, just move your legs. Exhale, legs up. Now you may notice that my lumbar spine is a little closer to the roller at this point, it's because I have my legs up.

My lumbar's gonna adjust a little bit, so will yours as you take your legs vertical. So holding here. Lower one leg just in line with the roller. Bring it up, other side. Tapping into your obliques probably.

Pressing down your your arms with the weights on the floor slightly as well, you'll find some additional stability assist from your shoulders and your back. Four, and lift. Three, so each leg gets four of these. And okay, now, if you'd like to, bring your head up. You don't have to do this, but I wanna just take my head and my shoulders up and reach the weights just a little further down.

And roll the upper spine and head down four times. You can really see and feel your maybe tendency if you're a right dominant belly, you know where you'd go. So you get to look and see and sure, yep, both sides are working pretty well, pretty even. One more time, I'm in a little pilates view with my legs. You could be in a parallel if you'd like, you can do this in table top, and lower.

I am gonna go into table top and just reciprocally move my legs a little faster, just change the nervous system for a second. You still balance quite a bit of it. (exhales air) And eight and seven and six. Five, and four. Three, and two, and one, feet down.

Okay, I feel as I'm a little high above my head so I'm just gonna inch on down about an inch there. Okay, legs going back up, now with this one, I'm gonna turn my weights down and just press my palms on top. I like that, I like the way it feels, keep my arms back, my shoulders back, and working into my upper back a little bit. So this is for open close of the legs, I am gonna externally rotate, and I'm gonna open, flex and close, eight times, point and open. (exhales air) Trying to have each leg, oop, I hit the wall, come the same distance apart, I have to minimize my right side on this here, and four.

And lift. So for your dancer, he or she may go all the way out. What if you stop them halfway? You don't let them go to their full range. Let's do some (mumbles), one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, and open.

Let's do that flexed feet, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, and open. Again in the point, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, and open, flex again. And one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, and open. And then close the legs and rest. All right I'm gonna separate the feet again, but this time I'm gonna roll the weights with a more chest lift again on an exhale.

(exhales air) (inhales air) (exhales air) Try to mobilize that upper thoracic spine. And the mobility of the weights is just kind of an interesting feedback for me to get that. Now if I take one leg up, and alternate. The opposite leg that stays on the ground there, I'm gonna anchor it, I'm gonna push my foot into the floor, I'm gonna find those hamstrings, I'm gonna find my inner thighs and lift. Now I'm gonna stay.

I wanna lift. And lower. And lift, let's do four of these, we're gonna turn out now, feel free to put your head down if you need a little break. All right that's our four, and lift. Turning out, here we go, stay balanced.

One. And two. And three. And four, and that's gonna be enough of that, and taking the head down. I'm gonna open and close the arms one more time, so coming back up to the ceiling, and enjoy inhaling.

And-- (exhaling air) If you are getting used to doing roller work, you'll understand that even though I've stayed on my back that entire time, my whole torso has worked, so my back muscles have really worked a lot, I don't really have to go face down to do like swan things so much, because just holding ourselves steady has worked our front and back systems together. But I am gonna do one piece that is faced down, 'cause it's again, back and shoulder blade and how that works onto the back of the body, so slither off as I like to say. Lie on your mat for at least 10 seconds, don't move, just feel yourself. Enjoy what you sense, I don't need to tell you, 'cause you're sensing what you feel on your own, but I am really loving what I feel. Okay.

Now, I'm gonna turn face down but I need to move my roller, and turning it this way, get my weights out of the way. Okay, so as we come down, we'll be doing a little bit of, I'm gonna face you for just a second, internally rotating the arm, working to externally rotate, and there'll be a little bit of this action as well. Internally rotating shoulders are going to elevate and then external, they'll come down, all right, on the roller. Feels kinda nice in the glide of the scapula. Okay.

So if I start face down, prone. Internally rotating those upper arms and reach the shoulder blades up. Very healthy to stretch that fascia and the skin and all of that musculature there. And then as I externally rotate the humorous, slide the scapula down, I'm gonna add a little chest float, and internally rotate, scapula up. Externally rotate and scapula down and then chest float.

My legs are separated. Do what you need to do to take care of that position, you can roll all the way together if you'd like. Internally rotating, externally rotating, lift. I'm gonna do eight total. Let's get that nice, rhythmic motion.

Roll the scapula across the ribs. Last two. And last one, so this last one I am gonna stay up there. And just hold for a moment, connecting to the back of your legs, high up by your sits bones, contract and bring your legs up, you don't have to lift 'em high. Now with the upper body I don't have a lot of weight on my arms to lift pretty easily, so what's really working again are the back sensors, the hip extensors, and I'm just gonna start to flutter the legs in a swimming, but I'm already doing some swimming in my upper body with the arms to add a little more variety to an opposition, I'm gonna take my right arm off and bring it back, looking at it and just place the hand on the back of my thigh.

Just go for awhile, that's good, and then bring it around, and then open, so, you know dancers know how to count to eight, we also know to just kinda move. So we don't always have to count to eight. We like to move and experience, let's do it again. Now let's bring our legs closer together though, because we all, most of us dancers are a little more conditioned on the outer line of the leg. The inner leg needs to do a little more working.

Let's go one more time. So swim with the legs closer together. And rest. Okay, all we're gonna do next guys, just to kinda wind it down is a little lateral, and you can say it's a mermaid. So I've got the roller to the side.

Now I have my legs in the figure four, absolutely possible to do this here. I just think it feels really nice here. So the back leg is slightly internally rotated, front leg turned out, light hand on the roller. Now we've done some stability, quite a bit of it. Let's let ourselves move now, have a little more undulation through the thoracic and actually the whole spine, okay, so less formed, and just let yourself move more.

The roller, you probably wouldn't even need it, but I have it here, and I'm just gonna move like seaweed possibly and just move. And let that spine undulate. Two more times, so I'm thinking leading hip, ribs, shoulders and head. Hips, ribs, shoulders and head and one more time. This time I am gonna add a little turn.

Adjusting the hands, reaching out a little further over, and if I think about doing a swan, I'm gonna kind of go there, but I wanna almost, if there were a ball behind me, that I would be wrapping back on the ball. I'm gonna do that same undulation as I just did. Here. And almost like I'm going over a ball, two more of those, undulate. Back over a ball, and last one.

And, second side. Okay. Ready, so leaning with the hip, the ribcage, the shoulder blade and the head, and hip, and ribs, and shoulder blade and head. Hip, ribs, shoulder blade, head. Really as loose as you could be.

After all that stability work. And breathing. Four more times. So I realize I have gone between repetions of four, repetitions of eight, it's all okay. Really nice way to work your neck muscles as well here.

Working those necks, last one. And we'll take it over and hold. Both hands on that roller and reach out, this should feel pretty good, take a big breath. I'm gonna undulate myself back in, and again as if I'm arching back over, laying on a ball, and reach. And roll back.

And undulate, freeing up the spine. So this might be a great preparatory workout for a dance class. Or anything that you might wanna go do, a little extra pilates workout or reformer session or anything, but have a little fun, let me know what you think and all the dancers that might be watching or were a dancer back in their time, you'll probably recognize some of those kinda things. Thanks for taking class, we'll see you soon.


3 people like this.
You're awesome Amy. I have a few ideas as to how I'll use this "experience" on the roller with clients. It felt wonderful! Thanks!
3 people like this.
Short but back feels great!
3 people like this.
Dear Amy, your classes are always fantastic! ...This is just another of them...!

3 people like this.
I always like to learn new things on the roller. Keep em coming!
Thank you everyone.....I so appreciate your feedback! :)
Thank You Amy for a wonderful foam roller class, perfect warmup for any apparatus :)
Thank you Yugonda.....short and sweet, yes!
1 person likes this.
Wonderful class, Amy, and as usual excellent explanation !
1 person likes this.
I am certainly no dancer, but loved this little class! Great "flashlight cue" with the scapula while doing puppet arms. Oh and if anyone needs to practice their snow angels....come to Omaha, we are in the midst of a major snowstorm! Thank you Amy for another great session!

This class was awesome, thank you so very much!!!!
Have a blessed day!
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