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Easy Pilates Foam Roller Exercises to Improve Posture

Updated on August 5, 2010
Pilates exercises in general- especially those that focus on extension- are excellent for improving posture.  Adding a foam roller to the mix can improve matters even more!  

Below are some simple Pilates foam roller exercises you can do to improve posture.

Modified Swan

  1. Lie prone (on your belly) on your mat
  2. Start off by lying completely flat, with your forehead resting on your hands
  3. Take a deep inhale through your nose, then exhale through your mouth as though you’re fogging up a mirror.  As you exhale, co-contract (engage your abdominal muscles)- you should feel your belly button pull away from the mat.  Every time you exhale, you should co-contract in this manner.  This way, exercises that would otherwise focus mostly on your back and shoulders, will also provide abdominal work.
  4. Now that you’re all set up and breaking correctly, you can bring yourself in position to start modified swan.  Place the foam roller so that it lies above your head and perpendicular to your torso.
  5. Place your forearms on the roller with your palms facing each other.
  6. Inhale, then exhale and co-contract while rolling up into a chest float by pulling your shoulder blades down your back.  Your foam roller will roll toward you, but avoid putting pressure on it (pretend it’s made of glass)
  7. Continue rolling up, relying a bit more on the foam roller as you roll up higher, but don’t go past the base of your rib cage.
  8. Pause at the height of your extension; inhale, and then exhale and co-contract as you roll down.
  9. Repeat five to ten times.

Notes:

Not pressing too hard on the foam roller encourages you to utilize your back muscles instead of pushing yourself up with your arms, which you will be more likely to do with traditional swan.

Coming up into the chest float and then modified swan (modified because you’re only rolling up to the base of your ribcage, and not your pubic bone) encourages you to focus on your upper (thoracic) spine, which is what really needs more work when it comes to improving posture (this is where we tend to hunch over most).

Neck Presses

  1. Lie on your foam roller with the base of your skull anchored to one end, the base of your ribcage anchored to the center, and your sacrum anchored to the other end.
  2. Inhale, filling the sides and back of your ribcage.
  3. Exhale, co-contracting and press the base of your skull into the foam roller.
  4. Repeat five to ten times.

Notes:

This simple exercise encourages you to contradict the forward-thrusting position into which you usually put your neck

By co-contracting with every exhale in this exercise, you’re also getting abdominal work while simultaneously improving your posture

Snow Angels

  1. Lie on your foam roller with the base of your skull anchored to one end, the base of your ribcage anchored to the center, and your sacrum anchored to the other end.
  2. Bring your arms out to your sides with your palms facing toward the ceiling.
  3. Move your arms up and down in a snow angel motion, slowly inhaling and exhaling as you move, and co-contracting with each exhale.
  4. Repeat eight to twelve times.

Notes:

This exercise helps you to loosen your chest muscles, which, when tight, can contribute to poor posture.

Passive Chest Stretch

  1. Lie on your foam roller with the base of your skull anchored to one end, the base of your ribcage anchored to the center, and your sacrum anchored to the other end.
  2. Let your arms rest on the mat so that your body forms a lower-case “t” - because you are lying on the elevated foam roller, you should feel a passive stretch in your chest.
  3. Lie in this position for as long as desired, inhaling and exhaling smoothly and co-contracting with each exhale for added abdominal muscle engagement.

Notes:

For a deeper stretch, bring your arms into a goal post or cactus position

Comments

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    • Simone Smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Simone Haruko Smith 

      8 years ago from San Francisco

      I'm not much of a gym person myself, so I know how you feel, but it's easy to get hooked in Pilates once you feel the difference it makes. The nice thing is that if you get a couple of private lessons, you could possibly build your own workout that you can then do at home with just a mat and simple things like a foam roller.

    • yenajeon profile image

      Yena Williams 

      8 years ago from California

      I've always wanted to try pilates, but I'm not a gym-girl at all. This makes me want to sign up for a class!!

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