Foam rollers were once used for packing heavy equipment. Now, the rollers have become equipment on their own, adding a little variety to your workout. Fitness expert Kathy Kaehler was invited to appear on "Today" to offer an exercise plan that will be sure to get you on a roll. Here are her tips:
The genesis of exercising with foam rollers is a form of training called Felden Krais in which they used logs to train. At that time, foam rollers were being used only for packing heavy equipment. Then someone came up with the idea of training with foam instead of logs and they immediately became popular pieces of fitness equipment for regular workouts and also yoga and pilates.
For core stabilization, strength training, balance and flexibility, there's practically no limit to the exercises you can do with rollers. It's just one more way of adding something different to your workout so you don't get bored.
The cost ranges from $5 to $20, depending on the size. Sizes run from two-inch x 36-inch to six-inch x 36-inch. You can also get washable nylon covers in different colors to keep rollers clean and longer-lasting. They're $15 each. The rollers you saw on "Today" are from exertools.com or call (800) 2235-1559. You can also get rollers at bodytrends.com, therapyzone.com, performbetter.com, and optp.com.
This plan consists of a series of six exercises: dead bug, hip and groin stretch, shoulder and chest stretch, chest fly with weights, balance on flat side of half roller and balance on round side of roller.
For the dead bug, lay on your back on the roller with your feet and hands on the ground. Lift your left foot and right arm, bringing them together over your pelvis. Then switch sides. Then repeat, bringing one knee into the chest.
For the hip and shoulder stretches, lay on your stomach on the floor and place the roller next to your body. Lift one arm up onto the roller to stretch your shoulder, and then hoist one leg onto the roller to stretch out your hip, and hold the stretch.
Try weights for the chest exercise. With your back on the roller and holding weights in each hand, bring your hands together and then lift one leg to incorporate balance.
Lastly, balance exercises. Balance becomes even more important as we age. Stand on the flat side of the half roller, then turn it around and balance on the round side.
All of these exercises are for core stabilization, balance and symmetry (balance of the muscles front to back and right to left.)