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Foam Roller Exercise: Reclined Marching

Build core stability on the mat or the foam roller

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Updated April 27, 2012

foam roller exercise

Foam Roller Exercise - Reclined Marching

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This easy foam roller exercise can also be done on the mat. Taking the workout onto the foam roller does increase the core stability challenge, but there are many benefits in this exercise that can still be experienced on the mat. Seniors and those with back pain or balance problems may be more comfortable on the mat. Of course, if you don't have a foam roller, you can do this exercise on the floor as well.

Benefits of Reclined Marching Foam Roller Exercise

The easy movement pattern in reclined-marching on the foam roller has many of the components of basic walking, which puts this exercise in the functional fitness exercise category. Though reclined marching is not a difficult exercise, it will teach you how to engage your core, move efficiently with a neutral spine and move the legs and arms without impinging on the stability or freedom of the pelvis or shoulder. Practicing a contralateral (arm and leg in opposition) movement pattern, along with coordinated breathing, such as in this exercise, is also very integrative for the neuromuscular system.

You might be surprised to discover the imbalances a simple exercise like this can reveal, and how easy it is to work with them in a reclined position. Joseph Pilates favored reclined exercises because removing the extra exertion and postural dynamics of resisting gravity while standing lets you focus on getting the pure movement established in your body. That will serve you very well once you engage with gravity in a vertical position, such as standing, sitting and walking.

Foam Roller Exercise Instructions for Reclined Marching

You will need a foam roller that is long enough to support you from your head all the way to your tailbone.

  1. Lie on your foam roller with your head at one end and the length of your spine along the roller.

    Your pelvis should be supported. Your legs will be parallel, hip-distance apart with the knees bent and feet flat on the floor.

    Allow your shoulders to be down away from your ears. Your chest will open as gravity pulls lightly on your shoulders. Enjoy that, but do not allow your ribs to pop up. You want your bottom ribs to stay down and to feel a bit knit together in front. That will help you engage your abdominal muscles and stabilize yourself.

    Your spine is in a neutral position with all three natural curves in place. Be sure you are not tilting or tucking your pelvis. Your pubic bone and two hip bones will be flat on one plane. See: How to Find Neutral Spine

  2. Inhale: Lift one leg and the opposite arm - just as if you were marching.

    Use your abdominal muscles to help lift the leg, and allow a deepening crease at the hip as the knee comes up. As the leg comes up, the hip will not tilt or raise with it. Notice how this part of the exercise relates to the Pilates fundamental exercise knee folds

    As your arm comes up, let your shoulder blade slide down your back, leaving your shoulders down and your neck free. You might be able to feel how the arms connect into the core this way. Notice how this part of the exercise relates to the Pilates fundamental exercise arms over.

    If you are doing this exercise on the foam roller you can use the back of the opposite forearm and the non-working leg to help you balance. But keep in mind that the point is to use your core stability to stay right in the middle and not wobble.


  3. Exhale: Return your arm to your side and your foot to the floor.

    Control the movement. Be sure your abdominal muscles are helping return your foot to the floor.


  4. Repeat: three times alternating sides.

Only in Pilates would you find an exercise this simple so detailed. But we are all about balance and control, body-mind connection and good body mechanics. We make every movement count!

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