Foam rollers are the latest piece of innovation in the world of fitness. What looks like a simple cylindrical piece of foam, it has much more to it than meets the eye. Foam rollers have predominantly been used by cyclists and runners. This was until regular gym goers realized just how beneficial it can be for them too. In recent times, it has been seen to be particularly beneficial for individuals with chronic or sporadic back pain. What is a foam roller and how to use foam roller for back pain? Lets delve a little deep into the matter and see how a foam roller can be utilized by you.
WHAT IS A FOAM ROLLER?
What is a foam roller, you ask? Well simply put, a foam roller is a cylinder, usually made of foam or flexible plastic. It can be placed in a variety of positions, allowing your body weight to exert a concentrated pressure on the affected muscle groups. One of the most popular areas for the foam roller is the iliotibial band (IT), but you can also use it on the back, hips and shoulders. The treatment of problem areas can help you release that accumulated tension in the fascia. This way, it allows you to restore the integrity and optimal performance of muscle tissue.
The roller allows you to give self-massages, targeting particular body parts and muscle groups. The self massage techniques help improve performance, strength and conditioning of the muscle group.
WHAT IS A FOAM ROLLER – WHEN SHOULD IT BE USED?
The foam roller can be used before and after your workouts. Before exercise, tissue elasticity, range of movement and circulation (blood flow) will increase. This can help you move better during your workout and protect you from injuries.
The foam roller after training is an excellent way to improve recovery. Focus on all the major muscles you just worked with, with an additional emphasis on the areas you feel problematic. By stimulating blood flow in the affected areas, oxygen will dramatically increase to sore muscle fibers and reduce recovery time. Most elite cyclists receive regular massages for this reason. You can enjoy many of the benefits of sports massages at home with a foam roller.
BACK PAIN AND ITS CAUSES
“What is a foam roller and how to use foam roller for back pain?” To answer this question, we must first understand why back pains occur in the first place. Low back pain is one of the most common ailments we experience throughout our lives, especially as we get older. In fact, it is estimated that about 80% of adults will suffer pain in the lower back at some time. The following are some its main causes.
AGE: Generally, pain in the lower back begins between the ages of 30 and 50 and is more common among the elderly population. This is because our spine is constantly degenerating as we age and in fact, almost all adults over 50 have degenerative disease of the vertebral discs in one degree or another.
As we age, we also lose muscle elasticity and joint flexibility, but fortunately these are two of the problems that working with the foam roller can help improve. So if you think that your back pain can be caused by age, please continue reading to learn about some of our recommended exercises to relieve this pain.
INJURIES: Car accidents or sports injuries are often the cause of low back pain. Traumatic injuries can hurt tendons, ligaments or muscles of the back or surrounding area and can also cause hernia or rupture of spinal discs.
PHYSICAL CONDITION: Lower back pain is more common in people who have a poor physical condition, due to the lack of tone that causes weakness in the muscles of the legs, back and abdomen. Back pain is also more common in people who are obese or overweight, due to increased tension in the back and spine.
HOW TO USE FOAM ROLLER FOR BACK PAIN?
What is a foam roller and how to use foam roller for back pain is what we’re inquiring about in this article. Foam rollers, as said before, have been used for back pain in particular. This is done by doing a set of exercises with the foam roller. For these, you will need an exercise mat and of course a foam roller.
HIP FLEXORS: The first exercise that can help with pain is the one that rotates the roller on the hip flexors. We know that our entire body is interconnected through fascia and a tense muscle in any area of the body can cause pain and discomfort elsewhere. Hip flexors connect to the lumbar spine, so that their stiffness (for example, caused by sitting for prolonged periods of time) is often the cause of problems.
This is how you can do it:
BUTTOCKS: Strong and toned buttocks help reduce lower back pain, so put your back to rotate on a roller. The direct relationship between low back pain and weakness of the gluteus medius has been proven. In the following video we show you the correct way to work the buttocks, especially the gluteus maximus.
TWINS: The last exercise that helps treat pain in the lower back involves the calves, when your muscles are tight, the center of the body shifts slightly. This variation causes overexertion in the spine when trying to maintain an upright posture. Over time, this exerts abnormal compression and tension in the area of the lumbar spine, therefore causing pain in the area.
IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND
Noticed how in none of the exercises, the foam roller was directly applied to the lower back. This is because it might not be the best idea to do it. Foam rollers might have an adverse effect on your pain when done directly on the lower back area. Lower back is mechanical in nature, a combination of nerve endings, muscle tissues etc. Disrupting this may aggravate the problem, rather than solving it. Using it indirectly for back pain is much safer.
ADDITIONAL TIPS TO IMPROVE BACK PAIN
Stretching, myofascial release or foam roller combined with the following tips, will make your lower back remain healthy and painless.
- If you spend many hours sitting in front of a computer, driving or doing any other activity that requires it, it is advisable to take breaks frequently and stretch your legs.
- Try to change position during the day.
- Try to work on your feet whenever possible.
- Adopt a small stretching routine and practice every day.