For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been susceptible to back pain of any kind. When I sit in the car, my lower back starts to ache. When I’m working, my shoulders and upper back become tight and painful in areas. My back most often feels tight, limiting movement from side to side. I occasionally find relief with stretching, but have never been able to find a miracle cure to rid the pain.
Related: 10 Crucial Lower Body Stretches
My internet research has led me in a variety of different directions. From self massage, to different stretches, yoga poses, golf balls, and heat sources. All of which have helped temporarily relieve the pain, but nothing any longer lasting.
When I finally got frustrated enough that I started to experiment on my own, I was really out of ideas. I didn’t know where to start. I figured there had to be something I was missing. And then it dawned on me: the foam roller.
I have used a foam roller for years. Whenever I am training for any type of race, I make sure to incorporate foam rolling into my weekly recovery routine. Using the foam roller on pain points throughout my body bring fresh blood to the area, loosen the built up lactic acid, and release some of the tension.
This sounds like exactly what my back could use! I began to experiment with different foam roller exercises to relieve back pain, and since then, have never gone back.
Today I want to share these foam roller techniques with you. It seems like there are not many options with a foam roller, so I was surprised to find that just varying the technique slightly had a big impact on my recovery. Ever since discovering these foam roller exercises for the lower and upper back, my pain has subsided significantly. I have begun to incorporate these exercises on a daily basis, and my back has never felt better.
(Check out my favorite foam roller here! I have found a great deal of success with the most basic kind. It is well worth the small investment (just $15!) to have something you will use for the rest of your life).
Using the foam roller to fix back pain is entirely possible, if you use it in the correct way. Here are some of the foam roller techniques that have been game changing in ridding my lower and upper back pain, as well as increasing the range of motion in my shoulders.
Foam Roller Exercises for Back Pain
Foam Roller Technique for Lower Back and Upper Back
- 30 – 60 seconds: Begin by rolling the foam roller up and down your back slowing, without stopping at any points, keeping the chest and neck parallel to the floor and butt off the ground (this creates a bit of an ab workout).
- 20-30 seconds: Now move the foam roller to the lowest point in your back and bend backwards over the foam roller until your head hits the floor (butt is still on the ground). Make sure your head rests completely on the floor so there is no neck tension. Maintain this position while taking deep breaths.
- After holding this position, lift your upper body back up so it’s parallel to the floor. Roll the foam roller up slightly higher on your back, and return to the back bend position (hold for another 20-30 seconds).
- Repeat all the way up your back, about 8 times total. Stop when you reach the highest point in the upper back near you neck. I’ve found that this really stretches out my spine and helps loosen my back.
Foam Roller Technique to Relieve Shoulder Tension
- Place the foam roller vertically underneath your back, so it runs up and down your spine.
- Aline your body on top of the foam roller so your head is resting on the foam roller, and your butt is entirely on the floor.
- Extend your arms straight out to your side (at a 90 degree angle from your body), and relax.
I was so surprised how tight my shoulders were when I first did this – so tight that I couldn’t get my arms to reach the floor. I’ve noticed a definite improvement and loosening here as I’ve begun to do this exercise consistently each day. My range of motion in my shoulders and back has increased significantly in just a few short weeks.
When back and neck pain gets in the way of your daily activities, it’s time to take action. Using the foam roller to relieve back pain is much easier than one might think. Making a small investment to purchase a foam roller will help fix back pain and tension for the rest of your life. Hopefully these foam roller exercises will help you keep back pain at bay.
Check out more tension relieving exercises:
- 10 Crucial Lower Body Stretches
- A Simple 30 Minute Yoga Routine
- 10 Healthy Habits to Stay Fit for Life