Recovery with Foam Rolling Your Upper Back


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

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