Practice Swan with the Foam Roller to Stretch Your Upper Back

swan with the foam rollerI love Swan with the foam roller! In fact, I prefer it to the regular mat version of Swan. This is because the foam roller helps to ensure that you lift up with the correct back muscles. Instead of letting the lower back take over, it forces you to open through your chest and upper thoracic spine. This opening stretch for the upper back and chest is one of the main benefits of Swan in addition to glute work.

Swan with the Foam Roller

  1. Begin on your stomach with your heels in line with your SITs bones. You should feel the tops of your feet pressing in to the mat. Reach your arms in front of you, shoulder-width apart with the palms facing each other. Place the outside edge of your forearms on the roller.
  2. Inhale. Lift your low belly toward your spine, press the tops of your feet in to the mat, and broaden your collarbones to put your scapulas (shoulder blades) in the correct place on your back.
  3. Exhale. Lift your head, neck, and upper back in to extension. Let your sternum (breastbone) rotate forward. Make sure as you lift that you don’t feel any tension or pain in your low back. If you do, you lost your abdominal support of your low back at some point. You should lower down, reengage, and try again.
  4. Inhale to feel your chest open more.
  5. Exhale to lower.
  6. Practice a total of 5 reps.

Finding a Foam Roller

If you want to order a foam roller, I recommend the [easyazon_link identifier=”B001UI0C36″ locale=”US” tag=”custpilandyog-20″]OPTP brand foam roller[/easyazon_link]. Their foam rollers are firm and don’t dent or bend easily. It’s crucial for your foam roller to be firm and stay the same shape throughout its use.

Foam rollers are a great tool to elevate your Pilates mat work, but they’re also wonderful self-massage tools. Here’s a link to some foam roller stretches.

Swan with the Foam Roller Video

Here is a video for visual learners.

What’s your favorite way to practice spinal extension? Let us know in the comments below.

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About Sarah Stockett

Hi, I'm Sarah! I'm a certified Pilates and yoga instructor with a passion for pain relief. I believe you can use simple exercises to relieve your aches + pains. AND, I believe I can teach you how.