Foam Rolling Lower Back and Upper Back
The low back and the abdominals act as stabilizers for the rest of the body for many exercises. Athletes performing strength exercises such as the squat or dead lift will develop tightness in the back due to its stabilizing effect on the body while performing complex lower body lifts with large loads. Athletes should foam roll the lower back to help alleviate pain and discomfort which could alter form during strength training. Athletes performing plyometric exercises involving stabilization of the mid section or a large volume of vertical movements (jumping or bounding) may also develop tightness in the lower back which can be alleviated by foam rolling.
Since the lower back plays such a key role in many full body movements it is imperative this part of the body be kept limber. Low back injuries can take a long time to recover from which is why prevention is the best way to avoid injuries to this area.
Tightness in the upper back and shoulders can also be detrimental to athletes. Shoulder injuries can be nagging and not only inhibit upper body motions but also impede athletic performance in other areas due to the upper bodies roll in performing explosive movements. The best way to stretch and avoid shoulder and upper back injuries is by foam rolling the upper back, focusing on the area between the shoulder blades.
Foam Rolling Lower Back
To loosen up the lower back athletes will begin by sitting on top of their Recovery Foam Roller. From this position athletes will tighten the abs and begin to roll forward until the Recovery Foam Roller is on the lower back. When foam rolling the lower back athletes need to take time to search for any tightness. Once tightness is discovered a static hold with the Recovery Foam Roller should be held for 15-20 seconds. Continue foam rolling the lower back by performing 1-3 in rolls on the trouble area releasing any tension left in the muscle and providing additional blood flow to the spinal erector (lower back muscle). Athletes should continue to search for trigger points while foam rolling the lower back and carefully release the tension on each trigger point. Athletes should tilt left and right to ensure every spot on the lower back is given attention.
As athletes are foam rolling the lower back it is important that pressure is applied on the back through the hips and abdominals. This means athletes need to keep the back in a flat position while foam rolling the lower back. Foam rolling the lower back is a very easy stretch and does not take a considerable amount of time. Therefore, athletes should foam roll their lower backs before all physical activities.
Foam Rolling Upper Back
Tightness in the upper back can lead to an array of problems in the neck, shoulders, and upper back. The best way to avoid these debilitating injuries is to constantly stretch and foam roll the upper back. Along with using the Recovery Foam Roller other stretches specifically designed to stretch the shoulders should be involved in warm-ups. Athletes should explore the Rejuvenate Stretching Sequence in order to keep the shoulders loose and avoid injuries.
To foam roll the upper back athletes will begin by laying their upper back on the Recovery Foam Roller with their hips raised. Raising the hips will allow for added pressure and control as the athlete foam rolls the upper back. Special attention should be given to the areas just inside of the shoulder blades as the athlete begins rolling. This is the area in the upper back where tightness is often greatest. After a few initial rolls on the upper back athletes should place the arm across the body and focus the Recovery Foam Roller on that side of the upper back, repeating the same process on the opposite side of the body.
If a trigger point in the upper back is detected athletes should hold the Recovery Foam Roller on that spot for 15-20 seconds before performing 1-3 in rolls on the trouble area. Complete this process until all areas of the upper back are free of tightness or discomfort. Foam rolling the upper back is a great way to release tension and properly warm up the shoulders. Foam rolling the upper back is extremely important for athletes involved in sports requiring a high volume or intensity of arm rotation (swimmers, baseball, softball, track and field).
Warming Up After Foam Rolling Upper and Lower Back
Using the Recovery Foam Roller is a great way to release tension and increase blood flow to different muscles of the body. However, the body needs a lot more warming up before it is ready for physical activity. Static stretches should be performed if an increase in the range of motion of a certain muscle is needed. Active stretches should always be performed before high intensity training or competition.
By performing active warm-ups (high knees, shoulder circles, etc.) athletes will further increase the blood flow to these areas of the body and allow the body to go through its natural preparatory process. Active and dynamic warm-ups allow for the body to produce synovial fluid in the joints. This aids in lubricating the joints for easier and smoother movements. Athletes will be able to take full advantage of training sessions and help those training sessions turn into greater success during competition if they properly prepare the body.
After foam rolling the upper and lower back athletes should use the Recovery Foam Roller to properly prepare the rest of the body. Glute and hamstring stretching with the Recovery Foam Roller should be performed following foam rolling the lower back. Tricep and shoulder stretches should also be utilized by athletes after foam rolling the upper back. Check out the Rejuvenate Stretching Sequence to learn more ways to use the Recovery Foam Roller to prepare the body for physical activity.