Sometimes called frollers, foam rollers are well known to therapists and athletes. They are sold in sporting goods and department stores, and come in various shapes and sizes – the most common being 36 inches long and six inches round. They look a little like short, stubby pool noodles, but they are shorter and denser.
In therapy, foam rollers are helpful when releasing trigger points in muscles and working out tight tissue. When working with students, you can use rollers to make therapy fun at the same time you promote important child development skills. If you travel from site to site, an added benefit to foam rollers is that you can easily take them with you. They are light and portable, as well as inexpensive. There’s even a Travel Roller designed expressly for this purpose.
Helpful Uses for Foam Rollers
Foam rollers can help you as you work with students on:
- Transitioning from floor to standing. Have a child straddle a foam roller, weight shift over one leg, and stand to reach an object. Practice this on both sides to make the switch from floor to standing via a half kneel.
- Core strengthening. Put a child over a roller on their belly. You have instant weight bearing through the arms. Have them practice supporting on one hand while using the other hand to place a puzzle piece or toss a bag to a target. Or, have them hold a roller overhead and walk backward. This also enhances overall body awareness.
- Obstacle course work. Prop one end of a roller on a low chair and have kids climb up, as part of a therapy obstacle course.
- Helping tiny necks. For children up to age three, use a roller for side lying or propping. This can also help with head righting.
- Movement input during seated activities. Have a student straddle a roller while sitting at a table.
- Midline crossing. While straddling a roller, have a child reach to the floor on each side to pick up puzzle pieces. They should use the right hand to reach for pieces on the left, and vice versa. This also builds core strength.
- Stand a roller up on its end. Have students do karate or roundhouse kicks to knock it over. This helps with balance on the stabilizing leg and with strengthening on the kicking leg. Or, have children wheelbarrow walk and then knock the roller over with their hand.
- W sitting. Have a child short sit on a roller, and place a playground ball between their knees to encourage core and leg strengthening.
For heavier work, have a student walk on their knees while pushing a roller from one point to another, using alternating hands. They also can practice pushing it up an incline. To add another fun element to therapy, set up a few rollers, grab a larger therapy ball, and make a giant bowling game.
The clinical managers at Cobb Pediatric Therapy Services are as passionate as you about helping children reach their full potential. To further enhance your school-based practice, or take your career to the next level within your own district or elsewhere, contact us today.