8 Foam-Rolling Techniques That Will Tone Your Entire Body

Foam Roller exercise for toning

Lauren Roxburgh

Standing tall with good posture can make you feel and look longer, leaner, and more confident. No matter how much you work out, a hunch in your posture can make you appear less toned than you really are. We are all dealing with gravity that compresses us daily, so addressing your posture is a must to look and feel your best.

It turns out that the secret to a gorgeous, more elegant posture may just be using a foam roller. It can completely transform your body, posture, and even your state of mind. Most people think of the foam roller as a tool to roll out tight IT bands, but it can be a total-body workout tool and actually mimic many of the moves you do on the Pilates reformer.

Rollers can help regenerate, hydrate, and smooth out your fascia, and they can literally roll away excess bulk, thickness, stress, and density. They can also boost circulation and lubrication to the tissue, which makes the skin and muscle look and feel more supple and youthful. Rolling also stimulates the lymphatic system to help flush out toxins and reduce bloating.

So, are you ready to get started? These eight foam-rolling moves will improve your posture and tone your entire body in no time.

Meet the Expert

  • Lauren Roxburgh is a best-selling author, a structural integrative specialist, and Goop's resident alignment guru.
  • Michael Julom is an ACE-certified personal trainer, a CrossFit trainer, and the founder of ThisIsWhyImFit.com

Safety and Precautions

Before you start any new exercise program, it is always a good idea to check in with your doctor. Most people can safely enjoy a foam-rolling routine, however, it is not recommended for people who have had recent fractures or surgeries, bleeding disorders, congestive heart failure, kidney failure, organ failure, or contagious skin conditions. If you are pregnant, talk with your doctor to see what is appropriate for you.

You should also make sure you are using the right foam roller. Those who are using foam rolling for myofascial or trigger point release should choose a firmer roller. For this toning routine, however, look for a moderate-density foam roller that is long enough to support you from your head to your tailbone, such as Lo Rox's 36-inch signature rollers.

When using the foam roller, avoid rolling over your lower back, says Julom, as your spine doesn't have enough protection in this area. “You also don't want to roll directly onto a joint or bone,” adds Julom, who recommends keeping the roller over the muscle belly, especially when using the roller for a trigger point release.

Listen to your body, and stop if you feel any pain. Gradually work up the intensity and number of repetitions as your strength and mobility improve.

01 of 08

Snow Angel

How to Use a Foam Roller
Lauren Roxburgh
  • Lie on the roller, with your spine supported from head to tailbone.
  • Begin with your arms extended down by your sides, with the palms of your hands facing up to open and expand the chest.
  • Inhale deeply as you reach your arms up overhead slowly and with control, keeping them as close to the mat as possible and parallel to the floor.
  • Exhale completely as you draw your arms back down to your sides.
  • Repeat eight times.
02 of 08

Grasshopper

Grasshopper foam roller exercise

Lauren Roxburgh

  • Place the roller horizontally along your lower thighs, above your kneecaps. 
  • Your hands should be under your shoulders. Inhale and look straight ahead. 
  • Exhale and bend your elbows to lower down until you are hovering above the mat.
  • Inhale and bend your knees. You will feel your arms and legs working.
  • Exhale as you extend your legs, straighten your arms, and lift back up. 
  • Repeat eight to 10 times. 
03 of 08

Roll Out the Kinks

How to Use a Foam Roller
Lauren Roxburgh
  • Lie on your back, with your knees bent and your feet on the floor.
  • Place the roller under your back at the bra line, leaning your mid-back over the roller.
  • Gently interlace your fingers behind your head to support your head and neck.
  • Using your feet to drive the movement, inhale as you roll up, stopping at the top of the shoulder blades.
  • Exhale as you roll, and massage down the spine, stopping at the bottom of your rib cage. (Be careful not to roll back and forth on the lower back.)
  • Repeat 10 times.
04 of 08

Bridge

Rolling bridge with a foam roller

Lauren Roxburgh

  • Lie on the roller, with your spine supported from head to tailbone.
  • Place your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Tighten your core, and lift your glutes off the roller.
  • Squeeze at the top, then slowly come down.
  • Repeat 12-15 times.

For more of a challenge, do a rolling bridge by placing the foam roller horizontally at your feet. Bridge up, and roll the foam roller in and out.

05 of 08

Diaphragm Release

How to Use a Foam Roller
Lauren Roxburgh
  • Sit on the ground, and place the roller under the bottom of your shoulder blades at the bra line.
  • Gently interlace your fingers, and bring your hands behind your head to support your neck.
  • Place your feet on the ground, with knees bent and feet hip-width apart.
  • Inhale as you arch your thoracic spine (middle-to-upper back) over the roller.
  • Exhale as you curl back up as if you were doing a crunch, squeezing all the air out of your stomach.
  • Repeat 10 times.
06 of 08

Mermaid

Mermaid foam roller

Lauren Roxburgh

  • Bend your left leg in front of you and your right knee out to the side, so your knees are staggered.
  • Place the roller in front of you, and place your palms on the roller.
  • Push up, and lift through the top of your head.
  • Inhaling, fold over, rolling the roller up your forearms to just below your elbows. 
  • Exhale as you roll back up to the starting position. 
  • Inhale as you reach your left hand up, placing your right hand on the floor slightly behind your right knee.
  • Exhale to return to the starting position. 
  • Repeat six to eight times, then repeat on the other side.
07 of 08

Rolling Reverse Push-Through

How to Use a Foam Roller
Lauren Roxburgh
  • Sit down on the mat, with the roller behind you and your legs extended long in front of you.
  • Place your fingertips on the roller, with arms straight and chest open, shoulders back, and thumbs out to the side.
  • Inhale as you roll back, and feel the roller move up to your forearms.
  • Exhale as you roll it back in, and your body returns to a sitting position.
  • Repeat eight times.
08 of 08

Rolling Swan

Rolling swan exercise with foam roller

Lauren Roxburgh

  • Lie face-down on the mat, with your arms straight out in front of you and the roller just below your elbow joints. Point your thumbs up toward the ceiling.
  • Inhale and roll the roller back toward you, extending your spine and lifting your heart as you roll your shoulders back. 
  • Pull your abs in and roll forward, until the roller is back where you started.
  • Repeat six times.

To further challenge yourself, add in an arm pull. While your arms are out straight, bend your elbows, and pull the roller in and out between sets.

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. National Academy of Sports Medicine. Foam Rolling: Applying the Technique of Self-Myofascial Release. August, 2013.

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