Foam Rolling for Mobility and Flexibility

Foam Rolling, Mobility, Foam Roller
/ Sep 18, 2023

Mason Hartsock, professional MMA fighter, CrossFit Level 1 coach, and personal trainer, shares some helpful foam roller exercises to help maintain mobility and flexibility.


It's important to maintain mobility and flexibility in the shoulders and T-Spine, especially for those with sedentary lifestyles or involved in activities that require a lot of pressing movements.

1. T-spine foam roller stretch:

  • Place the foam roller perpendicular to your spine, on the mid-back just under the shoulder blades.
  • Sit on the floor with your glutes touching the ground.
  • Reach your hands overhead, keeping your rib cage tucked and glutes on the floor.
  • Move the foam roller up and down, focusing on the tight areas.
  • For more focus on the shoulder blades, give yourself a big hug and continue the same motion.

2. Snow angel exercise on the foam roller:

  • Place the foam roller parallel to your spine, supporting your head and neck.
  • Lift your glutes off the ground and maintain a neutral chin position.
  • Perform snow angel motions with your arms, keeping your palms up.
  • Maintain a neutral spine and focus on opening up the chest muscles.

These exercises can be great for opening up tight pecs and shoulders, which is beneficial for people who spend a lot of time sitting at a desk, texting, or using their phones. It's recommended to spend about a minute and a half to two minutes on the T-spine foam roller stretch to ensure optimal results. Remember to always listen to your body and perform these exercises within a comfortable range of motion.


Foam rolling for hips and IT bands is crucial for a wide range of movements and often neglected by people with desk jobs, office jobs, or those who perform exercises like deadlifts and squats. Below is a step-by-step breakdown of the process.

  1. Start by placing the foam roller under your glute (the booty cheek) and lean slightly to one side.
  2. Bring the ankle of the leg that's on the foam roller over the opposite knee to create a figure-four position.
  3. Roll over the entire glute for about 45 seconds to a minute, focusing on tender areas and applying more pressure as needed.
  4. Next, move to the IT band and quad on the same side by extending the leg straight out and turning onto your side.
  5. Start at the top of the quad and roll down to just above the knee, avoiding direct pressure on the knee joint.
  6. Roll for another 45 seconds to a minute, adjusting pressure as needed by using the opposite leg for support or adding weight.
  7. For more advanced users, you can oscillate the leg up and down while rolling, and even bend the knee to intensify the stretch.

Make sure to repeat these steps on the other side to maintain balance and symmetry in your body. Foam rolling is a great way to alleviate tightness and improve mobility in the hips and IT bands, which is essential for athletes and individuals with sedentary lifestyles.


If you have tight shoulders in the overhead position, limited range of motion or suffer from poor posture or chronic pain check out the foam rolling exercises below:

  1. Start with the latissimus dorsi (lat) muscle on one side. Place the foam roller perpendicular to your body and position it at the top of the base of your arm, in your armpit area. Extend your arm long and start rolling down the lat muscle slowly, focusing on the areas around the shoulder blade where tightness is most common. Apply more pressure by lifting your hips or reaching behind your head. Spend about 45 seconds to a minute on this area.

  2. Move on to the pectoralis (pec) muscle on the same side. Lay belly-down with the foam roller positioned under the inside part of your shoulder. Lift your arm up towards the ceiling, drive your shoulder down towards the foam roller and the mat, and turn your head away. From here, you can either rotate your arm from thumbs up to thumbs down, or roll it along the foam roller. You can also perform T-spine openers, like pressing straight up and down or doing a reverse snow angel. Spend about 45 seconds to a minute on this area.

  3. Switch to the other side and repeat steps 1 and 2 for the lat and pec muscles.

Remember to take your time, breathe deeply, and focus on the areas that feel tight and tender. Foam rolling is an excellent way to improve mobility and flexibility, as well as to help prevent injury. Incorporate this routine into your regular workout schedule to help maintain healthy, functional shoulders.


Foam rolling for your calves and ankles is useful for runners, those who do box jumps, double-unders, and even those who want to improve their squat and main lifts.

Here's a step-by-step guide on foam rolling your calves and ankles:

  1. Place the foam roller on the ground, and position the leg you're working on over the roller, right above the Achilles tendon and above the ankle and heel.
  2. Plant your hands on the ground beside you for support and begin slowly rolling back and forth over the roller, searching for tight or sore spots.
  3. When you find a problem area, focus on it by rolling gently back and forth to help release tension.
  4. For added pressure, cross your free leg over the one on the roller. You can even lift your hips off the ground for even more pressure if needed.
  5. Be sure to roll the entire calf area, but avoid going directly behind the knee or onto the shin bone. Pay attention to the soft tissue in between.
  6. You can also roll the side of your calf to help alleviate shin splints or other issues related to jump roping or plantar fasciitis.
  7. Spend about 60 seconds to 1.5 minutes on each side, and then switch to the other leg and repeat the process.

Be gentle and patient with yourself as you foam roll, and make sure to focus on any tight or sore spots you find. Foam rolling can be an excellent addition to your workout routine, helping to reduce muscle soreness and improve mobility. Remember to always listen to your body and adjust the pressure accordingly to avoid discomfort or injury.