Foam Roller Techniques for People with Lower Back Pain

The foam roller has become a hot topic in self-care.  It is generally considered a self-myofascial release tool used by runners, cyclists, and other active people.  It’s also commonly used in rehabilitation and treatment in clinics and at home.  Many gyms have them for use by their patrons, but many people will invest in buying one of their own to use at home.

The foam rollers come in a variety of different sizes and densities, but the ones I prefer to use are 36 inches long and 6 inches in diameter.  I usually recommend denser styrofoam material rather than the softer versions, but the soft ones are a great place to start if you have very sore tight muscles or light muscle volume.  As you adapt to it, you can then progress to the harder material to get the most out of what the foam roller has to offer.

Remember when you are using the foam roller, it’s going to be uncomfortable most of the time, but it shouldn’t be painful.  You’ll have to take care not to bruise your muscles, and definitely don’t overwork your muscles so that you are discouraged from being able to be consistent.  Like flossing, you can’t really get away with doing it right before you go to the dentist.  It takes time and consistent effort to make changes to your soft tissue!

Lower Back Routine
Do 10 passes over the following areas 1-2 times per day:
(These can be done before working out as part of your warm-up routine.)

1. Mid Back- 10 reps
2. Lower Back- 10 reps
3. Gluteals- 10 reps
4. Hamstrings- 10 reps
5. IT Band- 10 reps
6. Calf- 10 reps
7. Quadriceps- 10 reps

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2 Responses to Foam Roller Techniques for People with Lower Back Pain

  1. Monica Jonen says:

    I heard that the foam rollers release something that builds up when you work out, but do you know what it really does the soft tissue? I’ve always been curious.

  2. andy says:

    Hi, Monica! Great question! Although the mechanism is somewhat up for debate, I’ll give you my understanding of it at this point: The safest answer, in my opinion, is that the foam roller is providing a deep, localized stretch to the muscles, fascia, and soft tissue as you roll over it. Over time, this can help make trigger points, knots, and adhesions/scar tissue more pliable. In that way, it can improve movement, range of motion, circulation, etc. I also think that it can help mobilize some of the congestion/swelling that builds up in muscles as they repair and recover from exercise. That can create a more clear pathway for the efficient delivery of nutrients and oxygen to the muscles. Hope sheds some light on it for you! Thanks for the question! APR

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