This article is intended to address one of the more common mistakes when making use of the foam roller for back pain, and explaining how to properly foam roll.
Lower back pain is one of the most common affliction we’re likely to suffer during our lives, especially as we get older.
The National Institute of Health estimates that about 80% of adults will experience lower back pain at some point in their lives, and, the UK’s National Health Service stated that lower back pain was the cause for over 15 million lost workdays in the UK as of 2013.
Therefore, lower back pain is not only a problem that is affecting individuals alone but also impacting the corporate bottom line.
Foam rolling can help with lower back pain, but there are too many people out there who are foam rolling their lower back incorrectly, which could potentially aggravate their issues even further.
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How to use a foam roller for back pain
The first exercise that can help with pain in your lower back is actually foam rolling the hip flexors, since everything in the body is interconnected, and a tight muscle in one area of the body can actually cause soreness and aching in another area.
The hip flexors connect to the lumbar spine, so their inflexibility is often the cause of lower back pain and issues.
Another exercise that few people take into consideration when they have lower back pain involves the glutes.
To perform the glute, follow the next steps if that is the case:
- Sit on the roller, supporting yourself with your hands, and place them behind you while trying to reach a stable position.
- Place one of your legs on the opposite knee, and roll for about 2 minutes, changing the legs from time to time
Furthermore, if you suffer from upper back pain, one exercise that will help you feel a lot better is the following:
- Lay on top of the foam roller after positioning it right under the level of your shoulders.
- Let your knees are raised and your back aligned with them
- Cross your arms, grabbing your shoulders, more like just hugging yourself.
- Start rolling backward and forwards, from the shoulders to the lower back, and if this exercise makes you feel pain or tension on the neck level, then place your hand at the back of it and continue rolling for about 2 minutes.
Another foam rolling exercise to alleviate lower back pain is the calves.
A research found that Triceps Surae tightness is often the hidden cause of low back pain, and the triceps surae is more commonly known as the calf muscle.
When the calf muscles are tight, the body’s center of mass will shift slightly, causing over-activation in the spine as it attempts to maintain an erect posture.
Over time, this will put abnormal compression and stress on the lumbar spine area, resulting in lower back pain.
Thus, restoring normal calf muscle flexibility can, therefore, eliminate lower back pain caused by triceps surae tightness, and this is a perfect job for a foam roller.
Common Pains that Foam Rolling Fixes
If your low back hurts, foam roll your hips because, if your hips are really stiff, you’re forced to bend at your waist instead.
This puts pressure on your lower back and leads to pain and injury over time.
Sitting at your desk, in your car, or on your couch for an extended period of time can cause the muscles of your upper back to stiffen, leading to poor posture, weak shoulders, and upper back pain.
To relieve the chronic tightness or sharp pain between your shoulder blades, try this foam rolling along your upper back, and keep your elbows squeezed together in front of your face.
This gets your shoulder blades out of the way, exposing the tight muscles you really want to work on.
If your heel hurts and if you especially feel pain during the first few steps you take after you wake up, then you may have plantar fasciitis.
The plantar fascia is a band of fiber that runs along the bottom of your foot and attaches to your heel. It can easily become inflamed.
The average guy tends to neglect the smaller stabilizing muscles in the back of the shoulder joint, and this can lead to a strength imbalance and pain.
Shin splints are commonly caused by an inflammation of the sheath surrounding the tibia bone.
This is usually due to running on hard surfaces or jumping, but foam rolling releases the inflammation around the bone.
Note that if your shin splints are caused by stress fractures, you should avoid this exercise.
Achilles tendon pain
If the bottom of your calf bothers you, limited ankle mobility might be the culprit, and foam rolling exercise will help break up restrictions in your calf.
Plus, it might save you from back pain in the future, since the tighter your ankles, the more your back has to flex to compensate during a squat, and when your lower back is rounded, it’s more susceptible to injuries like bulged discs.
Poor stability in your hip joint can cause your iliotibial band to overcompensate during exercise, leading to knee pain.
The Iliotibial band is like a chunk of leather, and it could take hours of foam rolling it to make any difference.
Best Stretches for Lower Back Pain
Here are the stretches you should be doing:
- Child’s Pose
- Dog/Cat Stretch
- Glute Stretch
- Lumbar Stretch
- Hamstring Stretch