Most of you are using our 12" x 6" x 3" half foam roller for calf stretches taught in our books, online studio classes and DVD or video programs, but there are more exercises you can do with this small-but-mighty piece of equipment.
Below are ten moves that can put your half dome to good use. Give them a try!
Gastroc Calf Stretch
This move is an “oldie but goodie,” especially when you don’t get a lot of “vitamin uphill” in your daily steps.
To start, place the ball of a foot on the apex of the half roller, drop the heel all the way to the ground, and straighten that knee. Step forward with the opposite foot and hold for a few breaths.
P.S. If you can’t bring your foot all the way forward, take a smaller step.
Soleus Calf Stretch
You actually have a few different lower leg muscles that make up the calf muscle group and this stretch gets the deeper one, the soleus.
Once in the Gastroc Calf Stretch position listed above, bend the knees while keeping the heels down to increase the load on the soleus and Achilles tendon. Hold for a few breaths, then repeat on the other side.
Balance-challenged Pelvic List
Ready to level-up your pelvic list? We have an entire video explaining how to do the Pelvic List. Watch that, and then try it on a dome, round side down, for extra ankle and hip work. Keep that standing leg straight!
Posterior dome hold and lift
This seems like it should be easy, but if you have tight shoulders, it’s not! Hold the dome behind you by pressing your hands together (don’t grip with your fingers).
Just holding it might be a challenge, especially if you bring your shoulder blades together as well. Then, try lifting it away from the body a few times while pressing your palms into the dome. Did I say no gripping it with the fingers? Well there, I’ve said it again!
Double Calf Stretch
This is my favorite way to take a chair break. Get out of the chair (you’re welcome) and turn to face the chair seat and the dome.
Put the balls of both feet on the top of the dome, dropping the heels (feet forward and feet pelvis-width apart, knees straight). Then place your hands on the seat, trying to bend mostly at the hips, not the spine. Lift the tailbone if you can and hold for a few breaths. Do this often throughout the day and follow it up with a thoracic stretch. Perfect moves for the office.
Click-clack on the dome
The Click-Clack is a core essential from my book Diastasis Recti. The dome helps create some momentum to get things moving with greater ease.
Start by sitting on the flat side of the half-roller (round side down), bending your knees until your feet are flat on the ground. Holding your shins just below the knee, lean back until your arms are straight, and keep your ribs down. Keeping the arms straight and the ribs down, tilt your pelvis forward and back to move your lower spine.
Mini-thoracic extension on the dome
After you’ve done your larger upper-back extension, it’s time to go smaller but deeper.
Lie back on your half foam roller, keeping the bottom of the rib cage from lifting as you lower a supported head over the other side (watch for lifting of the chin and use the support of your arms to keep that from happening). The point isn’t to get the head to the floor (it might get closer) because if you’re keeping the ribcage in place, each vertebra can only move a little bit.
Hang out in one spot for a few breaths, before scooting up or down to a new area, where you’ll repeat.
The dome is light but it makes a great anchor for aligning the elbows and shoulders as your arms move overhead.
Lie on your back, straightening your legs along the floor. Pressing your hands into the ends of the half some, squeeze your elbows toward each other (tight shoulders may make them want to poke out to the right and left). Keeping the ribs down, lower the dome overhead, only going as far as you can keeping the elbows squeezing in and without letting the ribs lift up toward the ceiling. Then bring it back up to the starting position. Repeat fifteen to twenty times, going slow.
Calf Elevators on the dome
Any hikers or backpackers out there? This move is excellent to prepare your ankles to stay strong as they push you uphill.
Step up onto the top of the roller and drop your heels to the floor. Elevate your heels, keeping your ankles straight (don’t let them drop out and away from each other). Lift and lower your heels, working up to twenty times. How many can you do without needing to touch something for balance support?
We love squats around here, but we also know they can challenge stiff solei (those deeper calf muscles mentioned above).
After you’ve done your Soleus Stretch and after you’ve tried a few bolstered squats where you work on getting the heels down, try a few squats with your elevated heels supported. This will give you a chance to rest, relax and take a handful of slow breaths in the squat position.
Wait, what do you mean you don’t have a half dome yet? You can order one here. Until then, you can try some of these moves using other stuff you have already (a folded and tightly rolled towel, yoga mat, etc.).