How To Use A Foam Roller For Muscle Pain Relief |7 Best Recovery Techniques

Are you spending a lot on deep tissue massages and still after some time your lower back pain and upper back pain shows up? Foam rollers could save you!

Obviously, I use foam rollers extensively in body parts like the Upper Back, Love handles, quads, hamstrings, calf muscles, and Latissimus Dorsi (commonly known as Lats) for stress and pain relief. Please do not perform any muscle-building workouts with foam rollers! Just do it for what we intend it to do – that is for injury prevention, mobility enhancement, and recovery.

Research shows that weakness around the lower back occurs because of weak glutes, tight hamstrings, ideal sitting behavior. I have shared what is Dynamic Sitting and how to implement a dynamic sitting behavior in my previous article.

Benefits of Practicing Correct Foam rolling techniques

  1. Increase Blood flow, 
  2. Increase joint range of motion,
  3. Experience a therapeutic massage at home. 
  4. Improving better circulation and flexibility, 
  5. Aid self-myofascial release!

“You can enhance your productivity only when you are pain free.”

How to use a foam roller: 7 Best ways to use a foam roller for body pain relief

Foam rollers for body pain
Foam rollers available in market

How to foam roll upper back muscles

women working out back muscles with a foam roller
Foam rolling upper back muscles for pain relief
  • Lay down face-up with the foam roller behind your upper back.
  • Keep your hands behind the head or cross them over the chest.
  • Slowly raise your hips from the ground and feel the pressure on your back.
  • Rollback and forth for 60 seconds.

Foam rollers with big teeth, either a vibrating or a normal trigger point foam roller are suitable for back muscles, which I also prefer for all muscles if you are a regular fitness enthusiast, athlete, bodybuilder. 

  • There are variations to hit upper back muscles and make it the best foam rolling technique: 
    • Tilt the roller clockwise or anticlockwise at a 45° angle and lay down on your upper back and roll back and forth. 
    • You can witness a crack in your upper back sometimes without adverse effect. This effectively helps reduce pressure in your spine.
    • Repeat the process by tilting the foam roller in the other direction. 
  • Muscle knots are one major area of concern for people with a sedentary lifestyle. These rollers help treat muscle knots for instant relief, but a change in lifestyle by adding hot and cold therapy, posture correction workouts, foot massage, massaging using effective massage guns adds more value in releasing them.
  • Read how to increase muscle density in painful areas in your body while trying to recover from muscle damage.
  • Foam rolling exactly on trigger points, either using a vibrating roller or a normal trigger point, is beneficial in providing a major stress relief on your tight back muscles. The upper back is a muscle knot-prone area. You should definitely use some massage equipment to treat it often.
Note: Do not foam roll down your lower back because the spine is already in a stretched position.

     2. Calf muscles:      

foam rolling calf muscles

Place the foam roller in the middle of a calf muscle and roll back and forth for 60 seconds. Not only for runners, athletes, and bodybuilders but also for workers who stand for long hours. Calf muscles indirectly aid in metabolism. I recommend to workout out these muscles to elevate your health because researchers found that people with a small circumference of calf muscles are subjected to undernutrition. Again, the best foam roller for calves is those with big teeth (a trigger point foam roller).

How to foam roll calf muscles

  • Slightly rotate your calf muscles left and right while keeping the foam roller stationery and apply your body weight onto it. 
  • If you find a calf trigger point, start rolling back and forth until the pain fades away. 

     3. Foam rolling Quads:     

Micro tears on quadriceps femoris muscles are sensitive to foam rolling. Make a habit of foam rolling twice a week for treating micro-tears. If you feel a lot of pain, then that could be a muscle strain. Seek medical help. 

foam rolling quads
Foam rolling quads for recovery

How to foam roll Quadriceps muscles

  1. Lay upside down and keep the roller underneath your quads muscles and set up a plank position by resting the elbows on the floor.
  2.  Rollback and forth all the way from groin to knees and sense a deep tissue squishing effect. Do this movement for 60 seconds. This may help to reduce muscle spasms and knots. 

Incorporating foam rolling habit will aid in free and fast walking, running, and jumping as quad muscles aid 70% of the swinging action of legs. 

   

 4. Iliotibial Band fasia   

Foam rolling iT band
Foam rolling IT band

 One of the most important mobility enhancements that you should incorporate into your workout routine is to foam roll the iliotibial band (IT band). The iliotibial band-aids stabilizing our knees, both during flexing and abducting. If you experience knee pain, then try working out the iliotibial band.

Check workout guide on strengthening knees and relieve knee pain.
Increasing testosterone levels can contribute to maintaining longevity in the IT band. Eat testosterone-rich food because it is helpful for both men and women. If you feel reduced energy level, low sex drive, low testosterone is the culprit!

There are many ways of increasing testosterone levels in men and women, naturally. Unlike men, who need 40-80mg testosterone per day, women need not take any supplements as they require just 2mg per day.  

How to foam roll IT band

  • Lay down to one side and place the foam roller middle of your IT band. 
  • Rollback and forth for 60 seconds
  • Switch the position and start rolling again.
  • The 3D squats help reduce knee issues and strengthens the IT band.  

5. Glute muscles     

 Weak glutes contribute to a major issue in increasing lower back pain. But even you workout glutes the back pain won’t give away. The reason is that because glutes are prone to tightness, as it powers the entire hip movements while exercising. 

Foam rolling weak glute muscles
Foam rolling weak glutes

How to foam roll glute muscles

  • Place one side of your buttock on the foam roller and cross the leg one above the other as shown. Roll the entire buttock for 30 seconds.
  • Switch the position and perform the same movement in the other buttock.

This is a cheap and one of the most effective ways of reducing tightness and stress on your glutes.

    

6. Side Upper Lat muscles   

These are important muscles connecting from our spine to the humerus aiding in shoulder mobility. A spot connects the upper triceps and lat muscle and is prone to muscle knots while working out. Foam rolling on that spot significantly reduces back pain, relieves stress, and enhances mobility.

Bodybuilders often have tight lat muscles so that they cannot raise their arms. Using a foam roller regularly can increase the mobility of the shoulders. 

How to foam roll side upper lat muscles

  • Choke the foam roller underneath your armpits.,
  • Start rolling all the way from the upper triceps to the lower portion of the rib cage.
  • Roll and hold the trigger spot for 60 seconds.
Foam rolling side upper lat muscles for pain relief

7. Hip Adductors   

Adductors are muscles on the inner thighs that run from pelvic bone to femur, which contribute to hip rotation. Weak glutes may also affect the adductors.

In the strengthening of lower back muscles free tutorial, I added the adductor muscle workout as I felt it is mandatory to strengthen the adductors in the process of muscle recovery and mobility enhancement, and injury prevention.

How to foam roll Adductors:

Foam rolling hip adductors
Foam rolling Hip adductors
  • Place the high density roller parallel to your body near the groin.
  • Like in a spiderman push up, raise your left leg and place the middle of the adductor on the foam roller.
  • Roll left and right for the full length of the thighs for 30 seconds and repeat the steps for the right leg for the same 30 seconds.
  • Likely to witness trigger points if you are doing this for the first time.

Conclusion

Find a way to use the vibrating foam roller or trigger point foam roller in your workout routine. It just takes a few extra minutes but can definitely save you a fortune in muscle recovery and mobility treatments. This is an effective way to enhance your productivity because it won’t allow you to divert the focus towards the body pain symptoms. There are different foam rollers, like:

  • vibrating foam rollers (a fantastic invention),
  • Bumpy foam rollers or trigger point foam rollers (my favorite)
  • high-density foam rollers and 
  • low-density foam rollers.

See the Pros and cons of the best foam rollers in the market.  
   

Few habits you should avoid while using a foam roller

A humorous side of fitness is that people do what they wish to increase their creativity. This may enhance your fitness enthusiasm but impact less on muscle growth and recovery.

  • Performing pushups on top of a foam roller.
  • Sitting on a foam roller while texting your boyfriend or girlfriend.
  • Performing Bulgarian squats while resting a leg on the foam roller.
  • Twisting the foam roller like a spinning widget for no good reason.
  • Foam rolling against the wall, which personally I feel ineffective. You can’t significantly pressure the foam roller for a prolonged period. But using foam rollers while laying down will maximize the pressure because of the body mass and gravity. 
poor usage of foam roller
Sabotaging the nature of foam roller
poor usage of a foam roller
Funny movements using a foam roller
not being productive
Not utilizing a foam roller and sabotaging productivity

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