Upper back flexibility using a foam roller.

Posted by & filed under Exercise and Training.

Usually on a Monday I publish my exercise of the week.  This week I am addressing upper back flexibility.  Lifestyle – sitting at a desk all day, driving a car and so on leads the whole back to stiffen up, and so when we want to play sports or shove weights about,the lack of general spinal mobility means we cannot be as effective and are in more danger of injury.  A foam roller can give ease to stiff backs.  The 2 simple releases demonstrated in this short video are both very effective.

Trainers, chiropractors, physiotherapists and massage therapists argue about many things, not least the size and density of the foam roller.  If you work out in a gym, then you will be using the foam roller provided, so no problems there.  In these 2 exercises, the size of the roller matters less.  Since the foam roller can be used to help relax many tight muscles, (I have talked about using it to help ease a tight ITB), if buying a foam roller, from personal experience, I recommend buying a softer one.  Hard rollers are uncomfortable and make relaxation impossible.  If we don’t relax when trying to get a muscle or stiff joint to let go, then we may as well piddle against the wind.  For maximum variety of uses, I recommend buying a foam roller that is 4″ deep or less.  A simple pool noodle may do – but in the above snow angel exercise, the important stretch across the chest and fronts of shoulders will not be quite so effective.

Some spinal conditions preclude lengthening the spine on a roller.  If bending the back backwards aggravates it, then finding out the cause sooner holds out greater hope of reversing, halting or, at the very least, slowing the condition.

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