Our backs take a lot of beatings from different everyday tasks. But how do you know if you need a foam roller to resolve the issue?
Here are the 5 signs you need a foam roller for your back.
1. Sore Muscles For An Extended Period of Time
Have you ever tried a brand-new workout and regretted it in when you got up the next morning? This is soreness. Muscle soreness of the lower back is probably the most common. Sore muscles and tight muscles are not the same.
Soreness primarily occurs from aggressive training or a change in routine. A foam roller can help you relieve this stress.
The idea behind foam rolling exercises is that by applying direct and sweeping high mechanical loads of pressure to muscles and tissues, your pain is reduced.
When you stretch and massage the painful tissue, this is believed to reduce thickening, adhesion, and tension of the fascia [connective tissue] and muscle.
When your back has underlying pain, the rest of your bodies’ extremities tend to follow along.
2. Tightness in Muscles (Different than Having Sore Muscles)
If you feel like your back has formed into a stiff piece of plywood, you most likely suffer from tightness in muscles. It can be the result of a lot of things, such as sitting down for more than 8 hours.
Poor posture can cause abnormal tightness in the back.
Foam rolling exercises stretch and loosen muscles. By applying force to your muscles and connective tissue over time, blood is slowly pressed out and replaced by a flood of fresh blood.
Blood carries vital nutrients such as oxygen and glycogen to spent muscles. The greater amount of blood flow leads to various related and beneficial results.
3. Pain in Your Lower Back
Back pain is more of a thorn/spike, especially during bending movements. The single most common cause of lower back pain is a torn or pulled muscle and ligament.
But other injuries can include damage to the intervertebral discs, compression of nerve roots, and improper movement of the spinal joints.
As a result of hard wear and tear, the outer ring of one of your lumbar discs may begin to bulge or crack. This, in turn, can lead to lower back pain and stiffness when the gel-like inner material leaks out (or herniates). You should consult a professional if you believe this has occurred. They may advise you to build up to using a foam roller.
4. Discomfort During the Resting Position
This is self-explanatory. Lower back discomfort can have causes that aren’t due to underlying disease. Examples include overdoing it during weight-lifting, prolonged sitting and laying down, sleeping in an uncomfortable position, as well as wearing a poorly-fitted backpack.
The goal of foam rolling is to promote blood flow and break down scar tissue.
Foam rolling can also help maintain normal muscle length, reduce pain and soreness during resting and increase your range of motion.
5. Soft-tissue Tension
Common causes of tense muscles and tissue include trauma, overuse or repetitive stress, and poor posture. Hunching over a desk for long periods also results in muscular tension. There is an imbalance, leading to other muscles having to compensate for the work required.
Another benefit a foam roller provides is Myofascial release. Myofascial release is the application of low-intensity forces to soft tissues over a long period. Essentially, the purpose is to allow contracted muscles to relax, which improves blood flow and nutrient flow to the area.
The effect is that muscles operate with smoother motion because of reduced internal rubbing.
Important Safety Precautions
Never use a Foam Roller Directly on the Lower Back.
It is okay to use a foam roller on the upper back because the shoulder blades and muscles in the upper back will protect the spine.
However, no structure in the lower back can help to protect your spine from the increased pressure.
If you use a foam roller on your lower back, the spinal muscles could contract and cause more damage than good, especially if a condition in the lumbar spine causes your pain.
Instead, focus the foam roller on your glutes and hip flexors to alleviate lower back pain. Tightness in those areas often contributes to lower back pain.
If you’re experiencing an annoyingly-achy lower back, it might not be originating in that part of the body at all. Tight hip flexors are one of the main causes of lower back pain, and stretching them correctly can be the key to relief.
Consult a Professional
Seek medical advice before doing a lot of foam rolling. They will show you exactly how and where to foam roll for your specific needs.
You’re supposed to go slowly, identify a tender spot and stop there for a few seconds, most people go too quickly and the damage to the back can be worse than doing it on other parts of your body. If you relax too much on the spot, you could put undue pressure on your spine.
If your pain isn’t caused by muscles or mechanics, like inflammation in the cartilage separating your disks, you could make the pain much worse
Foam rolling is only supposed to be done on muscles that have bones backing them to prevent added organ pressure and damage.
Where to Use Your Foam Roller
You can use a foam roller for a lot of different Body Parts.
Here is a shortlist of Body Areas perfect to tackle with a foam roller:
- Inner shoulder
- Upper Back
- IT band and Hamstring
Be sure to take time on the parts of your body that feel the most tension. Roll over each part slowly enough to feel the tension release.
To clarify, you should never continue any foam roller pressure if you are feeling a sharp pain. Regular pain from a release is normal, but excessive sudden sharp pain is bad. Tell your doctor immediately.
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When done properly, foam rolling can help alleviate various back symptoms.
If you are looking for a quality foam roller, check out our in-depth review here.