Rolling your way to healthier working habits

In continuing with the 'Desk equipment is the next big thing' series, we'll be discussing the ever-versatile, foam roller. Those familiar with this pain-inducing hard piece of foam, know it has many uses besides it's intended purpose. It can even be regarded as a great edition to the office. Subsequently, we'll be getting into the how and why of the exercises. It might be a little more challenging than most others but the fun factor is also so much more!

Foam rolling the ITB/TFL

Typically the foam roller is used by athletes to aid recovery by 'rolling' overworked tissue to stimulate blood flow and regeneration in that region. It can certainly also be used by office all-stars to aid in performance.

Due to prolonged sitting, our backs start to adapt to the posture we place it in for long periods. This means we develop a C-shape spine with excessive rounding of the upper back. Using the foam roller is a great way to counter this change. Place it horizontally or vertically in your upper back either sitting in your chair, leaning against the wall or lying on the ground. Now roll it in opposing directions. Feel your body lengthening and stretching out as you spend more time in this position.

A foam roller is also great for mobility in the shoulders. By rolling against a wall or even on your desk, you'll feel the stretch in your shoulders but also a workout for the stomach muscles. This exercise is also vital in improving stability around your shoulder blades which prevents pain on the long run.

Foam rollers come in all shapes and sizes and add an element of fun to exercise. In the office

environment it can even be used to stimulate movement by using it as a make-shift step. The challenge would be to get as many toe-taps in 1 minute as possible. It can even help in improving ankle mobility by using it for calf stretches and joint mobililsations.

Ankle mobilisations with the foam roller
Ankle mobilisations with the foam roller

The conventional use of a foam roller is also great to relieve stiffness and pain. The key

muscle groups to focus on are the hip flexors, spine erectors and knee flexors. The duration to roll is always up for debate. It is quite painful for a start but if you keep at it, the pain diminishes. This is ultimately the point you want to reach on your foam rolling journey: tolerable pain.

Start off by doing it in short repeated intervals, to your personal pain threshold. Take a break, and repeat a little later.

Conventional foam rolling does not have to be performed everyday. A recovery time of at least 48 hours should be allowed in between sessions.

It's quite clear that the foam roller is a piece of equipment for top performers. Be it in the sporting environment or an office. It stimulates regular movement by challenging coordination, balance and strength.

Certainly advisable for any office setup!

And remember, keep it visible. It keeps you accountable.

Photo credit: Physitrack