Whether you’re a gym rat, an elderly individual or someone who has simply been blessed with poor genetics, frequent or chronic back pain is a common ailment that has been experienced by many. In some instances the pain can be so severe that the suffering individual must refrain from performing daily activities that they love to do, such as weightlifting, yard work, going for walks or even just sitting down!
As can clearly be inferred, no one enjoys back pain – but what can be done about it? Most people recommend hiring chiropractors or certified practitioners, but they can charge a small fortune for what can sometimes be reduced to a simple remedy. There has to be a better way!
Enter the foam roller: a cheap, ordinary cylinder made of the packaging material you normally throw away from your mail deliveries. What has been made from a useless piece of rubbish may just be what you need to ease your ever-persistent ailments.
In this article we will discuss what a foam roller is, how it can benefit your body (primarily your back), and even learn some crucial moves to get you on the road to recovery.
What Is a Foam Roller?
As said before in layman’s terms, a foam roller is a foam cylinder used for the application of self-induced pressure. More specifically, this blessing of a contraption is a personal therapeutic and rehabilitative device intended for the use of self-myofascial release (SMR). If used correctly, the foam roller will relax the targeted muscle, relieve chronic aches and improve soft tissue extensibility.
Therefore, whether used to alleviate pain or as a warm-up tactic before a workout, SMR will prepare your skeletal muscles (i.e. fascia) for proper and more efficient performance. You can purchase a foam roller for a reasonable price at any sports equipment retailer or online.
Foam Rolling Technique
But how is it used? As the name implies, you simply roll on it!
To begin, identify the muscle that is inflamed and/or causing you pain. Position the roller on the floor and lay down upon it, focusing the pressure from the roller directly onto your targeted muscle. In a slow, rhythmic motion, move the roller across the length of the muscle while constantly maintaining the applied pressure*. Perform this technique repeatedly – typically 20 to 30 seconds – until discerned pressure is alleviated from the targeted muscle.
*NOTE: in some instances, this motion may initially be painful – this is normal, as the muscle that is being rolled out is abnormally tight. As the fascia are progressively released from their constricted state, the pain will be relieved and muscle extensibility will subsequently ensue.
Do It Yourself! – Three Crucial Foam Roller Moves For Back Pain
Now that you know the technique, it’s time to get rolling! All you need for these moves are your body, a flat & open space and a simple sports-performance foam roller.
Erector Spinea Roll
Lay down with your lower back (erector spinea) upon the foam roller. With your arms crossed upon your chest, spine parallel to the floor in a neutral position and knees bent & stabilizing the rest of your body, roll out the muscle that extends from your waist all the way up to your middle back. Be sure to place the pressure on the muscle and not on the spine itself. Repeat in an up-and-down motion along the curvature of your back for 20-30 seconds.
Latissimus Dorsi Roll
Lay down with one side of your mid-back (latissimus dorsi) upon the foam roller. With your arms crossed upon your chest, spine parallel to the floor in a neutral position and knees bent & stabilizing the rest of your body, roll out the muscle that extends from your armpit down to the middle of your core. Be sure to place the pressure on the muscle and not on the spine itself in an effort to truly isolate the lat. Repeat in an up-and-down motion along the curvature of your back for 20-30 seconds; when finished, repeat for the opposite side.
Thoracic Spine/Trapezius Roll
Lay down with your upper-back (trapezius) upon the foam roller. Place your hands behind your head and flare your elbows out parallel to the floor & adjacent to your body. Keep your spine parallel to the floor in a neutral position and knees bent while stabilizing the rest of your body. Roll out the muscle that extends from beneath/in between your shoulder blades up to your lower neck. Be sure to place the pressure on the muscle and not directly on the spine in an effort to truly isolate the trapezius. Repeat in an up-and-down motion along the curvature of your spine for 20-30 seconds.
Now you have what it takes to strike back at back pain! Utilizing the foam roller can put you in a physically (and economically) advantageous position guaranteed to grant you numerous benefits.
Whether correcting a faulty back or simply being used as a warm-up mechanism, the humbled foam roller is an essential inventory item that every fitness enthusiast should take advantage of! Now, what are you waiting for? It’s time to FUEL YOUR AMBITION and get rolling!