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How To Effectively Foam Roll Your Upper & Lower Body

The use of foam rollers, sticks, therapy balls, theracanes, and other trigger point tools are on the rise—why? Because chances are you’re reading this, right now, in some pain due to chronic movement patterns from flawed body mechanics. Myofascial work like foam rolling helps alleviate muscle pain and increase blood flow. It should actually be a proactive practice, pain or not, in order for you to continue to move better for life. By manipulating your body’s soft tissue, you aid muscle recovery and assist in returning it to normal function. Normal function means you are elastic, healthy, and ready to perform, in and outside the gym!
Trigger points or “knots,” for lack of a better term, form in muscles and can be identified because they will refer pain. Pain referral can most easily be described as when pressure is applied in one area but the pain is felt or radiated in another area. So if your left shoulder hurts, the problem is likely somewhere else in your body, and rolling can help you target the correct area that needs attention. When rolling or working on tight muscles, you will experience discomfort. Be prepared. It should be uncomfortable, but not unbearable, and when you are done it should feel better!

Foam Rolling Directions

Spend at least one minute on each tight area. Use as much or as little pressure as feels comfortable for you. If you find a knot, linger on it for a little while, rolling back and forth until the tenderness eases. It’s best if you can spend at least 15 minutes a day doing myofascial work, regardless if you were active that day. Just like all other areas of your health (nutrition, sleep, activity, etc.), rolling takes consistent practice.

Ready to give it a try?!

Upper Body Foam Rolling Routine

Complete all reps on one side before switching to the other side, when applicable. 

Upper Back

1 – Lie on a roller across your upper back, with hands on the floor by your sides, your feet flat and knees bent.
2 – Push away, rolling down from your upper back to your mid-back, straightening your legs.
3 – Then pull back, rolling up from your mid to upper back.

Lower Back

1 – Lie on a roller in your mid-back, with hands on the floor behind, your feet flat and knees bent.
2 – Push away, rolling down from your mid-back to your buttocks, straightening your legs.
3 – Then pull back, rolling up from your buttocks to your mid-back.


1 – Lie face-down with a roller under your upper chest and your arms stretched overhead.
2 – Pull your body toward your forearms, rolling down from your upper chest to your mid-abdomen, supporting your weight on your toes and forearms.
3 – Push away, rolling back from your mid-abdomen to your upper chest


1 – Sit, leaning to one side, with a roller under the side of your rib cage, resting on your forearm with your elbow bent.
2 – Roll upward toward your armpit, straightening your arm.
3 – Roll back down from your armpit to your rib cage, bending your elbow.


1 – Lie on your side with a roller in your armpit, with your arm straight out and your other hand on the mat in front.
2 – Raise your upper body, rolling down the back of your upper arm from your armpit to your elbow.
3 – Lower your body back down, rolling back up your arm to your armpit.


1 – Lie on your back with a roller lengthwise along your spine, feet flat, knees bent and arms by your sides.
2 – Roll from side to side across your back, keeping your feet flat.

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