How to Use a Foam Roller to Build Strength

Use a foam roller for postrun recovery? Smart move: This simple tool acts as a deep-tissue massager, working out kinks in overused muscles. But its benefits don't end there—it can also build strength and stability. Because the foam roller has a curved, unstable surface, adding it to an exercise, like a plank, suddenly gives a standard move a challenging twist. 

"Balancing on a foam roller requires your body to recruit more muscles, especially in your core, to perform the move," says Tyler G. Travis, executive director of Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine Medical Fitness and Wellness Center, who created this routine. 

Try to do these exercises two to three times a week (on easy-run days so you're not too wiped out) to build total-body strength that'll help improve performance and guard against injury. (See how fit you really are with these 10 DIY Fitness Tests.)

More: How Myofascial Release Can Prevent Injury

Plank

Works abdominals, glutes, back, shoulders



To do:  Place your palms shoulder width apart on the foam roller. Keep your elbows slightly flexed, your back straight, and your neck neutral. Stabilize the foam roller in this position, and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat three times.

More: Build Core Strength and Endurance Without Crunches

Push-up With Leg Lift

Works chest, triceps, abdominals, glutes

To do: Start in foam-roller plank. Lower your chest toward the roller, keeping your elbows in. Lift your right leg up, then lower it. Repeat the push-up, then lift the left leg. Alternate for three sets of eight to 12 reps.

If you'd rather exercise in a group, see these Best New Gym Classes for some inspiration. 
More: 3 Ways to Build an Injury-Proof Foundation for Running

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