An Intro to Foam Rolling and Foam Rolling for Back Pain
Foam rolling has come into popularity among those in the physical therapy and fitness industries in recent years. At one time, foam rolling was only used by elite athletes, coaches and physical therapists, but it has now become a more mainstream practice among everyday people of all fitness levels.
A foam roller is essentially a foam cylinder, most commonly 6 inches in diameter and either 12 or 36 inches long. Densities vary from product to product, with those new to foam rolling usually opting for a softer foam roller, while more experienced athletes might prefer a denser product. Foam rolling is a self-myofascial release technique, basically meaning it’s a form of self-massage that helps to loosen muscle tightness and massage trigger points, like knots that form in muscles or sore spots. Self-myofascial release works by using deep compression to break up tight muscles. The deep compression experienced during foam rolling increases circulation and allows a normal blood flow to return to the particular area you are exercising. It stretches your muscle and activates restoration of healthy tissue, helping to alleviate pain and soreness. In short, foam rolling is like getting a massage at a 5-star spa, only far less expensive and easily done in the comfort of your own home.
Foam rolling for back pain:
Many Americans might consider their backs a trigger point, as back pain is one of the most common medical problems. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, 8 out of 10 people experience back pain at some point during their lives. Some people get a deep tissue massage to help minimize back pain, while others see an acupuncturist or practice yoga. But more and more often, foam rolling is being used as an alternative to more costly treatments. (However, it is important to note that it is no replacement for professional medical treatment.)
Follow these tips to foam roll your back:
-Purchase the foam roller of your choice. If you plan on using your foam roller for your back, purchase one that is 36 inches long, like the Full Performance Roller
offered by Core Products.
-Sit on the ground with the roller right behind you. Lace your fingers behind your head and lean your upper back onto the foam roller. With your abs and glutes tight, slowly roll up and down, from your shoulders to the end of your rib cage.
-Many experts say you should not foam roll on your lower back. Instead, for lower back pain, focus on muscles surrounding and connected to your back, like the hamstrings. Sit on a foam roller with your legs stretched out and place your hands on the floor behind you. The foam roller should be right under your hamstrings. Roll forwards and backwards, slowly, from the bottom of your glutes to the base of your knee