Best Foam Roller Exercises for back Pain and Tension

For each foam roller exercise below, roll for 30 to 60 seconds, pausing and letting the muscle relax around the roller when you hit a tight or tender spot. Remember: Foam rolling should not cause intense pain. If it does, that’s your cue to let up or stop. For extra relief, you may also want to perform a stretch that targets the muscle you’re loosening up.

Foam Roller Exercise
 

1. Lateral quad massage

Great for: quad tightness, knee pain

How to do it: Place the foam roller on the ground perpendicular to your body, then lay the right side of your thigh on top of it. Keep the right leg straight with your left foot close-to-flat on the floor. Your left hand or forearm will be on the ground to give you extra support and leverage. Next: Rotate your body slightly towards the floor to target the outside muscle of the quad then slowly roll back and forth to massage. Switch to the other leg.

2. Adductor massage

Great for: groin tightness, knee pain

How to do it: Lie with your stomach on the ground with the foam roller parallel besides you. Lift your torso up through your hands. Keep your right leg straight behind you and bend your right leg to about 90 degrees. Lift your right leg and place it on top of the foam roller. Shift your weight back and forth as the foam roller massages the length of your groin. Repeat on the opposite side.

3. Hamstring roll out

Great for: hamstring tightness, knee and back pain

How to do it: Sit on the floor with your legs straight in front of you. Grab your foam roller and place it underneath your thighs. Place your hands behind you for support. Bend your left knee so that your left foot is flat on the floor. Begin shifting your body forward and back as you move the foam roller from the lower part of your butt to just above the knee. (Never foam roll behind the knee as to avoid irritating the joint.) For a deeper massage you can cross the left leg over the right. Make sure to give the left leg some love after your done loosening up the right.

4. Lat smash

Great for: shoulder pain

How to do it: Lie down on your right side with the foam roller perpendicular to your torso and right beneath your armpit. Extend your right arm so that it’s closer to your ear and let the foam roller sink into the muscle. You can roll backwards and forwards or plant your left foot into the floor and use your left leg to help you move the roller up and down. When you’ve finished, flip over to the other side.

5. Oblique massage

Great for: ab and back pain

How to do it: Lie down on your right side with the foam roller perpendicular to and beneath your abdomen. Place your right forearm on the floor and your right leg straight with your left heel flat on the ground. Slowly rock forward and back as you massage out the obliques. You can even move up and down to get other areas of the side body. When you’re ready switch to your left side.

6. Tricep smash

Great for: shoulder and elbow pain

How to do it: Kneel (or lie down facing the ground) and put the foam roller horizontally down in front of you. Place the back of your right upper arm on top of the roller and it sink into the muscle. Stay here then flex and extend your elbow as you work into the tricep. Once you feel like the muscle is relaxed, move the foam roller to another area of the tricep. Once you’re done, switch to the opposite arm.

7. Rhomboid massage and chest opener

Great for: upper back pain, pec/chest tightness, shoulder pain

How to do it: Place the foam roller vertically on the floor and lie your head, back, and butt upon it so that you are fully supported. Bend your knees and plant both feet into the ground. Cactus those arms so that your hands are by your ears, elbows bent at 90 degrees. Bring the arms as close to the floor as you can. Hold for 2 seconds then bring your arms together. Repeat until you’ve reached your desired massage time.

8. Upper back extension massage

Great for: upper back pain, shoulder pain

How to do it: Lie down on your back, knees bent with your feet on the floor. Grab your foam roller, sit up, and place it below and parallel to your upper back. Hug yourself then extend your back over the foam roller. Come back up. (Do not let the foam roller roll!) Repeat until you feel your back relax. Pick up the foam roller and place it higher or lower on your upper back. Repeat the process until you’ve covered the whole region.

9. Regular calf roll out

Great for: Achilles, heel, foot, and knee pain

How to do it: Sit on the ground with your legs straight out in front of you. Put the foam roller beneath your right calf and cross the left leg over the right to add pressure. Place your hands behind you for leverage then begin shifting your weight back and forth to massage the calf. If you need less pressure, place your left foot on the floor. When you’re satisfied switch to the other leg.

10. Kneeling calf massage

Great for: Achilles, heel, foot, and knee pain

How to do it: Begin in a kneeling position with your butt on your heels. Sit up a bit, grab your foam roller and place it in between your thighs and your calves. Sit down and let the roller sink into your calves. You can shift your hips left to right to hit different angles or you can sit until you feel your muscles release. This can be intense so if it’s too much pressure, opt for the regular calf roll out option.

11. Lateral shin mobilization

Great for: shin splints

How to do it: Place the foam roller in front of you horizontally. Then get into a plank position above the roller. Bring your right knee up to place the outside of your shin on top of the roller. Shift your body up and down so that the roller massages the length of your shin. Make sure to repeat on the left side.

12. Foot roll

Great for: foot pain

How to do it: From a kneeling or standing position step your right foot onto a foam roller that is horizontal to you on the floor. Let your foot curve over the roller as you slowly move it back and forth. When those 30-60 seconds are up, switch to the left foot.

Dr Rohit Bhaskar, Physio
Dr Rohit Bhaskar, Physio Dr. Rohit Bhaskar, Physio is Founder of Bhaskar Health and Physiotherapy and is also a consulting physiotherapist. He completed his Graduation in Physiotherapy from Uttar Pradesh University of Medical Sciences. His clinical interests are in Chest Physiotherapy, stroke rehab, parkinson’s and head injury rehab. Bhaskar Health is dedicated to readers, doctors, physiotherapists, nurses, paramedics, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals. Bhaskar Health audience is the reason I feel so passionate about this project, so thanks for reading and sharing Bhaskar Health.

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