Foam Roller Exercises For Back Pain

foam roller exercises for back pain
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Watch the video below to learn more about foam rolling exercises for back pain.


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Source: Michelle Kenway

Michelle at Physical Therapist demonstrates how to use foam rollers for back relief.
This video shows you how to use the Physical Therapy foam rollers to strengthen your thoracic spine (middle back and upper back). These exercises are great for warming up before exercising, improving posture and providing relief for your upper and middle back.

More videos on Back Release using a Rolled Up towel

» Physiotherapist Upper Back Stretches to Relieve Stiffness and Pain – Video Part 1
» Physiotherapist Upper and Middle Back Stretches – Video Part 2

Foam Roller Back Exercises Video
Below are the details of the foam roller exercises as shown in the video.

1. Muscle release for your Upper and Middle Back

Start Position
• Place the roller on a firm surface
• Lean backwards and rest your mid back against the horizontally placed roller
• Support your head and neck with your hands
• Spread your elbows wide

• Place the roller horizontally under your middle back
• Bend your knees and keep your feet flat on the ground
• Raise your buttocks off the ground so your body weight rests through your feet and the foam roller
• Move the foam roller upwards between the shoulder blades and then down to the lower part of the middle back by bending and then extending your knees

2. Joint Release for the Upper and Middle Back

Start Position
• Place the roller on a firm surface
• Recline and rest your mid back against the roller
• Support your head and neck with your hands
• Bring your elbows close together so they’re almost touching

• Use the same starting technique outlined for muscle release
• Rather than bending and extending the legs to move the roller, extend (arch) your upper backwards slightly directing your elbows to the ceiling
• Repeat this technique at different levels of your middle and upper spine.
You should stop using the foam roller to release your back immediately if you feel discomfort.

What is Foam Rolling?

Foam rolling to relieve back pain is the act of rolling the upper and middle parts of your back on a foam cylinder. This compresses the back tissues, which can lead to a variety of benefits.

A Foam roller for your back: The benefits

These benefits include:
• Decreased post exercise muscle soreness (1)
• Improved muscle performance (1)
• Improved joint range of motion (2)
• Decreased post exercise fatigue (3)
• Improved flexibility in spinal connective tissues (4)

You can also improve your posture by extending your thoracic spinal spine. Many of us spend significant time with our spines bent forward at work or while doing other activities.

Foam Roller Substitute For Back Relief

A foam roller can make your back feel uncomfortable.
• rolled towel
• D roll (half size foam roller)
• Polystyrene pool noodle (readily cut to size using a kitchen bread knife)

Tips for Using a Foam Roller for Back Pain

• Start with a small circumference roller
• Use a low density roller
• Gradually increase the size of the roller over time
• Support your neck when extending over the roller
• Breathe out when extending over the roller
• Avoid hyper-extending your lower back by keeping your buttocks raised above the ground
• Avoid foam rolling with an acute (recent) back injury or osteoporosis

How often to use the Foam Roller on your Back

The roller is available at any time you wish:
– Before, during and/or after an exercise
– Take a break from your desk or studying
– When your upper back feels stiff and tired


1. Macdonald G. and colleagues (2014) Foam rolling to aid recovery after intense physical activity. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 46(1), pp 131-42. Retrieved at


3. Healey, K., et al (2014) Effects of myofascial release with foam rolling on performance. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.28 (1), pp 61–68. Retrieved at

4. Griefahn A. and colleagues (2017) Fascia science, clinical applications and original research: Do Foam Roller exercises have a short-term effect on the thoracolumbar facia? – A randomized controlled trial Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies 21(1), pp 186-193. Retrieved at

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