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Roll out your back pain with these foam roller exercises

Foam rolling is a major phenomenon in the athletic industry, and it’s not surprising why! Foam rollers can elevate your stretching routine and relieve back pain in a fun, easy, and relaxing way. 

Foam rolling is the use of a large lightweight, foam cylinder that you place on the ground during an exercise or yoga session. You can use a foam roller on all muscle groups, but it’s an especially helpful tool to get rid of back pain, providing a deep tissue massage to alleviate tension. If you’re ready to save some money and cancel your next massage, check out these tips for foam rolling for pain relief.

man using a foam roller during exercise
Manu Padilla/Shutterstock

Why people love foam rolling

Foam rolling is such a popular method for self-administered deep tissue massage because it provides a deeper stretch than you’d get from touching your toes. The best part is they are inexpensive and simple to use. Moreover, these exercise tools are lightweight which makes them easy to implement into any routine regardless of age, weight, or strength. Thanks to their versatility, you can also include them in deep tissue massages for your arms, legs, neck, and feet, but they’re especially helpful for rolling out back pain.

Foam rollers come in several different softness gradients and sizes to suit anyone’s lifestyle. As a beginner to foam rolling, it’s best to begin with a softer foam roller rather than a more sturdy one until you get used to the pressure.

Benefits of foam rollers

While research is still ongoing into the clinical benefits of foam rollers, professional athletes and casual gym-goers alike proclaim their amazement at the breadth of uses foam rollers offer. 

For starters, they are a great tool for relieving muscle tension and pain. When you roll your back over a foam roller, you’ll feel the pressure and tension release from your muscles and tendons. The continuous rolling paired with a small bit of pressure will soothe the muscles and improve blood flow, allowing them to relax. Foam rollers can also relieve knots and adhesions in the muscles, thanks to the myofascial release that foam rollers provide.

Myofascial release involves slow and sustained pressure by a professional’s hands on their client’s fascial tissue pressure points. While foam rollers can’t offer the exact massage procedure, they can mimic it in a way that relieves pain and significantly reduces tension in problem areas.

How to use a foam roller

It’s best to start with a softer foam roller before moving on to more sturdy rollers. Once you have your roller, lay down a yoga mat and place the roller on top. Situate yourself so that the roller is perpendicular to your spine and lean back so that your back makes contact with the roller. Start slowly and roll yourself back and forth, reaching from the top of your shoulders to the base of your back. Repeat this a few times using your arms to stabilize yourself.

Once you have this foundational motion down, you can begin experimenting with more pressure, longer holds in sore spots, and even active movement to help loosen any muscle tension.

woman using a foam roller on her back
Alexander_Safonov/Shutterstock

Different types of rollers

  • Soft foam rollers: Soft foam rollers are best for beginners and those who require a gentler touch for their back massages. This is the preferred roller for people with high sensitivity in the spine or back muscles.
  • Firm foam rollers: Firm foam rollers work well for more experienced users or those who are ready for a little more pressure during exercises.
  • Textured foam rollers: Textured foam rollers include grooves, edges, and bumps that aid in a deeper massage. This is the best option for targeting localized muscle tensions and soreness.
  • Vibrating foam rollers: Vibrating foam rollers are great for improving blood circulation and relieving muscle knots. The movement loosens muscles and relaxes the whole body.
  • Hot and cold foam rollers: Heated and cooled foam rollers relieve muscle tension and involve the user in a deeper relaxation by activating more senses.

There are several different types of foam rollers to choose from, and each has a unique benefit for the user. Depending on your needs, you may need to opt for a more specialized foam roller or consult a professional for help.

Disclaimer:  BlissMark provides information regarding health, wellness, and beauty. The information within this article is not intended to be medical advice. Before starting any diet or exercise routine, consult your physician. If you don’t have a primary care physician, the United States Health & Human Services department has a free online tool that can help you locate a clinic in your area. We are not medical professionals, have not verified or vetted any programs, and in no way intend our content to be anything more than informative and inspiring.

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