Recovery with Foam Rolling
Foam Rolling the Upper Back
Reasons to consider mobilization (foam roller, lacrosse ball, trigger point cane, etc.):
- Mid-upper back muscle soreness from a recent workout
- Rounded shoulders, forward resting head/neck, or tight chest muscles, possibly due to poor posture while regularly working a seated desk-position or office-setting job.
- Limited motion or feeling of a “block” during overhead movements (e.g., overhead press)
How to foam roll the upper back:
- Lay down on your back with your knees bent and heels on the ground.
- Place the foam roller underneath you at the bottom of your shoulder blades.
- Raise your hips off of the ground and tighten your abdomen (as if someone is going to come over and karate-chop you in the belly) to make your body parallel with the ground.
- Cross your arms over your chest, or straighten them out directly in front of you.
- Gently roll your butt toward your heels, allowing the foam roller to roll to the base of your neck/top of your shoulders.
- Gently roll back away toward the direction you started, back to the base of your shoulder blades.
- Repeat about 5-8 times, choosing one direction (e.g., shoulder blade to neck) to breathe in, and the opposite direction to breathe out. Change it up from time-to-time!
- “Snaps,” “crackles,” and “pops” are normal to hear! However, if there is pain associated with these noises, or pain directly over the spine, you should discontinue.
- In general, mobilizing tissue using a foam roller, lacrosse ball, trigger point cane, or another instrument will cause some discomfort; after all, the goal is to mobilize (move or “free-up”) the tissue from any restrictions that might be limiting your body’s movement or range of motion.
However, if you experience too much discomfort or pain, you should stop.
- In general, you should not attempt to mobilize (foam roll, lacrosse ball, trigger point cane, etc.) a recent injury that has occurred within the past 48 hours.
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by Nick April, coach at Bent On Better