8 Best Foam Roller Stretches For Pain Relief

foam roller stretches for pain relief

Are you suffering from upper back and lower back pain? Are you finding stretching is not enough to relieve the annoying pain in your back? You are in the right place because, in this article, we will go over 8 Foam Roller stretches for pain relief that stretching exercise can’t relieve your pain.

You need stretching, foam rolling, postural correction exercise, and strength training to relieve pain in your back.

What Is The Benefit of Foam Rolling?

Foam rolling exercise help to relieve tight knots and myofascial adhesion in your muscles, ligaments, tendons, and nerves.  Myofascial adhesion caused by fascia (a thin connective tissue encasing the organs, muscles, tendons, nerve fibers, blood vessels, and bone in place) stuck with muscles instead of smoothly glide against each other.

Over time, this will fascia compress on the adjacent muscle and form myofascial knots on your muscles. When the myofascial knots are left untreated, the knots will become hard and bigger, then it will cause myofascial pain syndrome.

Often times, people refer to this as trigger points in your muscles.  Sometimes these trigger points will cause referral pain such as headache in the upper trapezius muscle, or sciatic nerve pain that travels down your leg in the piriformis muscle.

How can Foam Roller Stretches Help Reduce Myofascial Pain?

Foam rolling exercise can help smoothen your fascia and myofascial adhesion in your muscle.  Overtrain muscle, overuse muscle, fatigue muscle, injury muscle from direct/indirect impact will cause myofascial adhesion.  So actively foam roll 1-2x daily will increase ROM in your muscle, increase blood flow, decrease injury, and release myofascial knots.

1. Foam Roller Upper Back

  • Use a foam roller, (use a smooth surface is preferred, the Blue color foam roller is softer, the Black one is more firm)
  • Place the foam roller on the floor horizontal across your mid-back, plant both feet on the ground for stabilization and support.
  • You can cross your arms across your chest or raise your arm overhead
  • Slowly move up and down along your thoracic spine (upper back to mid-back)
  • Make sure you don’t roam roll your lower back, Find more here on why foam roller of the lower back is not recommended. 
  • Make sure your movement is slow and steady, you may hear cracking should in your spine which is normal.
  • Foam roll for 5 minutes

2. Pec Stretch On Foam Roller

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Pec (pectoral) muscles are the muscle in your chest, which is consist of Pectoralis Major and Pectoralis Minor.  Tight pec muscle is common for people who are poor posture when they use a computer, prolong sitting, weight lifter (bench press exercises) without or minimum stretching, and weak upper back muscles.  Tight pec is associated with Upper Cross Syndrome.

Pectoral muscles Pain May Cause:

  • Pain on Pectoral muscle
  • Decrease ROM of Arm and shoulder
  • Radiculopathy to arm or hand
  • Muscle weakness

Directions For Pec Stretch On Foam Roller

  • Use of Foam Roller, Place the foam roller on the floor, lie on the foam roller along your spine, vertically
  • Bend both hips and knee, place your feet on the floor for stability
  • Abduct your or raise your arm to 90 degree
  • Hold in position for 30 seconds to 1 minute
  • You should feel the stretch on your chest

3. Foam Roller Lats (latissimus dorsi)

Lat is one of the largest muscles in your back which form a “V” shape from your lower back to your shoulder. It helps to control your shoulder by pulling down motions.  You want to make sure you take care of your lat to avoid trigger point knots from forming.

Latissimus Dorsi Pain May Cause:

  • Pain during breathing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Tingling in the lower arm

Directions For Foam Roller Lats

  • Start: Begin by placing a foam roller on your left lat muscle (near your armpits). Next is lying your back with a 45-degree angle on the foam roller.
  • Slowly roll down from your left armpit to mid-back, then roll back up. Make sure you slowly roll your lat because lat foam rolling is very sensitive and tender.
  • Foam roll for 30 seconds to 1 minute
  • If a spot is too sensitive, you can hold in position on the sensitive spot for 10 to 20 seconds to release the myofascial knots

4. Hip Flexor Foam Roller

  • Psoas (Iliopsoas) Foam Roller

    • Psoas or Iliopsoas muscle is a major hip flexor muscle that is buried deep under your abdominal muscle.  Now a day, you will expect everyone to have a tight hip flexor because prolong sitting will cause our hip flexor to tight. Hip Flexors tightness is associated with Lower Cross Syndrome.
    • Psoas Pain May Cause: 
      • Pain in hip and lower back
      • Tightness in hip and lower back
      • Clicking or popping sound in the groin or hip when the hip is moving in a flexion motion
      • Pain intensifies when the hip is in bending motion such motion-related to walking, climbing stairs, squatting, and sitting.

      Directions For Psoas Foam Roller

      • Start: prone position with your forearm support, a foam roller is placed under your right hip flexor. Bend your left leg slightly to allow you to foam roll hip flexor which is a deep muscle in your hip.
      • Begin to slowly roll up and down your right hip flexor
      • The hip flexor is very sensitive because most of us have tight hip flexors due to our sitting habits.
      • Foam roll for 30 seconds to 1 minute
      • If a spot is too sensitive, you can hold in position on the sensitive spot for 10 to 20 seconds to release the myofascial knots
  • Foam Roller For Quad (Quadriceps)

    • Quad is one of the major hip flexor muscles and one of the biggest muscles in your legs.
    • Quad Pain May Lead To:
      • Pain and difficulty when bending and extending your knees
      • sharp pain in running, jumping, and kicking
      • Tightness in hip and thigh

      Directions For Quads Foam Roll

      • Start: prone position with your forearm support, a foam roller is placed under your quad
      • Begin at the quad near your hip and slowly roll down toward your knee
      • Then you roll back up to where you started
      • You can go through the same path for a few times if you find myofascial knots or sensitive spot along the path of your foam rolling
      • Tightening your core will help you maintain your balance while you foam roll your quad
      • Foam roll for 30 seconds to 1 minute
      • If a spot is too sensitive, you can hold in position on the sensitive spot for 10 to 20 seconds to release the myofascial knots

5. Hamstring Foam Roller

The hamstrings consist of 3 big muscles behind your thigh.  This muscle involved in hip extension and knee flexion. Hamstring weakness is associated with Lower Cross Syndrome.

Hamstring Pain May Cause:

  • Pain in the back of your thigh when you flex or extend your leg
  • Tightness in hamstring
  • Weakness in the leg during extension motion
  • Tenderness or swelling in your hamstring muscle

Directions For Hamstring Foam Roller

  • Start: Sitting on the floor with your left hamstring directly on top of the foam roller. Both of your arms are behind your back for support. Your body is not touching the floor during the foam rolling session.
  • You can have both legs extended or place the other foot on the floor to keep your balance when you move the foam roller
  • Slowly move down toward the back of your knee and slowly roll back up toward your buttock.
  • Foam roll for 30 seconds to 1 minute
  • If a spot is too sensitive, you can hold in position on the sensitive spot for 10 to 20 seconds to release the myofascial knots

6. Foam Roller Calf (Gastrosoleus)

Calf muscles are consist of two muscles, Gastrocnemius, and soleus.

Calf Pain May Cause:

  • Swelling
  • Weakness in the lower leg
  • Pain while walking
  • Prolong standing will cause discomfort
  • Pain also in lower back, thigh, or buttock
  • May cause plantar fasciitis

Directions For Foam Roll Calf

  • Start: Sitting on the floor with both legs extended
  • Place the foam roller under your left calf, cross your right leg over the left leg to apply pressure to the left calf as you foam roll.
  • Place both arms behind your back and lift your body off the floor so the weight is on your left calf
  • Slowly roll up and down the calf muscle
  • Foam roll for 30 seconds to 1 minute
  • If a spot is too sensitive, you can hold in position on the sensitive spot for 10 to 20 seconds to release the myofascial knots

7. Piriformis Foam Roller

Piriformis is a deep muscle in your buttock. It is behind the gluteus maximus muscle. Piriformis help to lateral rotate the hip and abduct when the hip is in the flex position.  A common problem is piriformis pain syndrome which can be caused by injury or spasm to the muscle.  Irritation of the piriformis muscle can cause sciatic nerve and sciatica.

Piriformis Syndrome Cause:

  • Piriformis muscle spasm
  • Tightness in piriformis
  • Swelling to piriformis
  • May cause sciatica

Directions For Piriformis Foam Roller

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  • Start: Once again you begin by sitting on the right gluteus (butt), but this one is slightly different from previous foam rolling exercises. You place both arms behind your back to support your body to sit upright.  Cross your right leg across your left knee (figure 4)
  • Slowly roll up/down your buttock region.
  • Foam roll for 30 seconds to 1 minute
  • If a spot is too sensitive, you can hold in position on the sensitive spot for 10 to 20 seconds to release the myofascial knots

8. Glutes Foam Roller

Glutes (gluteal) is a term for muscles in your buttock. You have 3 major muscles in each of your buttocks: gluteus Maximus, gluteus minimus, and gluteus medius.  The function of gluteal muscles is an extension, abduction, external rotation, and internal rotation of the hip. Glutes muscle weakness is associated with Lower Cross Syndrome.

Gluteal Pain May Cause:

  • Pain and tenderness in buttock
  • The weakness of gluteal muscles
  • Stiffness of gluteal muscles
  • Pain in the lower back

Directions For Glutes Foam Roller

  • Start: Begin by sitting on your right glutes (butt), your left glutes should not touch the foam roller.  Extend your left leg and bend your right knee to place the right foot on the floor to help you stabilize and foam rolling exercises.  Place your left hand behind your back for stabilization.
  • Slowly roll from glutes near your lower back down toward your tailbone. Slowly roll back up once you’re near your tailbone.
  • Foam roll for 30 seconds to 1 minute
  • If a spot is too sensitive, you can hold in position on the sensitive spot for 10 to 20 seconds to release the myofascial knots
  • Tips: Make sure your weight is on your right glutes throughout your foam rolling exercises.

Summary

Foam roller stretches are great to use for myofascial adhesion in your muscles. Myofascial pain symptom is quick common because we sit all day which caused by overuse, poor postural in sitting, standing, sleeping, overexercise, inactive, and indirect/direct injury.  You can’t release myofascial knots by stretching except myofascial release technique provided by a chiropractor, specialist who trains to release these knots, massage, foam roller, massage ball, and massage device.

 

Related Post:

  1. 8 Best Upper Back Stretches For Pain Relief
  2. Foam Roller For Lower Back| Harmful or Benefit For You?
  3. 6 Best Static And Dynamic Stretch To Increase Flexibility
  4. Unlock Your Hip Flexor Review
  5. Lower Cross Syndrome: Does It Cause Back Pain?
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