How to Use a Roller on Your Back
Step 1: Start with the correct foam roller
There are different types of foam rollers available in the market, varying widely in size, shape, density, and firmness. Beginners should opt for a soft foam roller. If you suffer from chronic back pain, a denser roller might benefit you. Experts call for using rollers of moderate density as they offer the right amount of pressure and support for most people.
Step 2: Find a comfortable spot
Once you have the right foam roller, find a spot on the floor or a comfortable mat where you can lie down. If necessary, you can use a pillow or a rolled-up towel to brace your neck or head. Remember to remove any sharp objects lying around.
Step 3: Engage the core and breathe
Before rolling on your back, take a deep breath and engage your core. This makes sure that you protect your spine as you roll. Next, exhale slowly as you roll your back over the foam roller. Start from the top of your back – your shoulder blades – and work your way downwards. While you may feel tempted to roll from the lower back up, working from the top downwards is safer as it helps avoid spinal compression.
Step 4: Focus on the knots
As you roll over the roller, you will likely feel several knots or tight spots on your back, especially in the muscles next to your spine. These knots are the areas where blood flow may be constricted, resulting in pain or aches in your back muscles. To target these knots or trigger points, pause, and hold the roller on them for anywhere between 20 and 30 seconds. Allow the pressure to release gradually, as you take slow, deep breaths.
Step 5: Remember to breathe
It is essential to breathe normally during foam rolling. As you inhale, you should allow your belly to expand, and as you exhale, you should draw it in. This breathing technique is called diaphragmatic breathing, and it massages your internal organs, contributing to a better digestive system.
Step 6: Watch your posture
Maintain good posture while you roll your back over the foam roller. Avoid rounding your shoulders or disturbing your neck. Remember, you are using the foam roller only to support the spine, not to use it to arch the lower back.
Step 7: Cover your entire back
Roll your back slowly over the foam roller, spending a minute or two in every spot. Move the roller from the shoulder blades down to the tailbone on the lower back, and up again. You may want to roll up to 10 minutes; however, taking care to pause and hold over tight spots longer.
Step 8: Take care of your equipment
After you're done with your rolling session, store your foam roller correctly. Avoid placing it near heaters, direct sunlight or other materials that can damage or shrink it.
Foam rolling is a great addition to your daily routine. With a little practice and patience, you can massage your back muscles and relieve chronic pain or tension. Remember to breathe through the entire process and focus on maintaining proper posture to avoid injury. If you are getting started, reach out to a professional for guidance.