Foam Roller for Back Pain Exercises

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Are you looking for a foam roller for back pain? Then you’re most definitely in the right place. Keep on reading for all the details you need to know about using a foam roller to relieve mid and lower back pain, as well as our top picks for rollers.

Why Do So Many People Have Back Pain?

The back is a complex body part.  There are muscles, ligaments, bones, joints, and discs.  And the back is used in posture, exercise, physical labor, walking, and sitting.  Therefore with so much use, it can be prone to injury.


A Sedentary Lifestyle

However, a more common cause is our sedentary lifestyles that involve sitting in office chairs or on our couches for 50+ hours per week. When you think about it, we actually spend a ton of time not moving our bodies around!

Excessive weight also plays a role in whether or not you’ll develop back pain during your lifetime. It puts excess stress on the back.

A Physical Job

If you have a job that involves lots of heavy lifting, or repetitive movements, especially bending or twisting, then you may be prone to a back injury

Car Accident or Sports Injury

Some people have back pain due to a past car accident or injury obtained through a sports accident.

Not Taking Care with Heavy Thing

One solution for back pain is to be very careful when you lift heavy things. Make sure you are using your leg muscles and not just your back. Bend those legs and keep that back straight! See: Proper Lifting Technique on Web MD.

Sitting Too Much

Another solution for back pain is to try not to sit so much in order to prevent pain in the first place. And when you do sit, make sure you have good posture and don’t slouch!


When you smoke, blood flow is reduced to areas in your body. In this case, there’s less blood flow to the disks in your back. This results in slower healing from small injuries than would otherwise happen in a non-smoker.

Arthritis or Other Issues

Back pain can also be symptom of a more serious problem such as: arthritis, cancer, and internal organ issues.  Always consult with your doctor to rule out disease before starting a recovery program.

Osteoporosis may cause the vertebrae in your back to develop fractures when they become porous and brittle.

Skeletal Irregularities

If your spine curves to one side, it can lead to back pain. However, this usually doesn’t occur until middle age.

Try a Foam Roller to Relieve Back Pain

Whether a dull ache or a sharp pain, you back pain will impact your quality of life.  A back roller might be a solution for you.

Many people have found great success with using a foam roller for back pain. We’ve chosen our favourite videos displaying foam roller for back pain exercises. Get some relief for your back pain today! But, before you get started, we highly recommend that you check out the following videos below. There most certainly is a CORRECT way and an INCORRECT way to use a foam roller for back pain.

And the best part about it is that foam rollers cost around $20 or 30. Certainly cheaper than expensive chiropractic or physiotherapist appointments. We love foam rolling!

Check out one of our top picks here:

TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller

41+1lH+GP0L. SL500

  • Patented foam roller design offers a superior, multi-density exterior constructed…
  • Constructed from quality materials that won’t break down or lose shape from repeated…
  • Includes access to free online instructional video library on foam rolling best…
  • Trusted foam roller of physical and massage therapists, coaches, trainers and…
  • Original GRID: Standard density, 13 x 5.5 inches, 500 pound weight limit

What is Foam Rolling?

Foam rolling is technique called self-myofascial release.  This means that you are using the mass of your body to apply pressure from a foam roller in order to release tension in the soft tissue of your muscles. This soft tissue, or fascia, is found everywhere: around nerves, organs, muscles, and bones.

If fascia is damaged it can restrict range of motion and cause serious pain. Back rollers can provide tension relief and extend the range of motion in your back if used correctly over a period of time.

4 Top Foam Roller Stretches for a Healthy Spine 

From a Bozeman, Montana sports medicine specialist, this quick 3-minute video gives you the basics of foam rolling for back pain. It’s some solid advice from a guy who really knows what he’s talking about.

Using a Foam Roller for Back Pain

This video from a chiropractor in San Francisco gives you a basic overview of using a foam roller for back pain. There are also a few exercises that you can try for yourself at home. It’s another solid choice if you want to use a foam roller correctly.

Foam Roller Exercises for Mid and Upper Back Pain

This short video from an American chiropractor shows you the best techniques for using a foam roller for mid back pain and upper back pain. It’s a short video that can help you relieve a lot of pain!

Or, take a look at one of top rolling techniques for mid back or upper back pain.

Upper Back Roller Exercise:

  1. Place your mid-back on the roller.
  2. Put your arms behind your head or on your chest.
  3. Roll until the roller is on your upper back.
  4. Roll back to the original spot on your mid-back.
  5. To increase intensity, elevate your hips and contract your abdomen.

Foam Rolling for Lower Back Pain

This top rehab doctor gives an introduction to using a foam roller for back pain. It’s a solid video from a trusted source. Or, take a look below at some of our recommendations.

Lower Back Roller Exercises:

A common cause of lower back pain comes from tight hip flexors.  You might find a smaller roller more helpful here.

  1. Lie on your stomach and place the roller under one of your hips.
  2. Put your other leg out to the side and knee bent.
  3. Lift your upper body with your forearms flat on the floor.
  4. Extend the leg that has the roller under it, toes pointed.
  5. Start rolling up and down.
  6. Go slow and try to identify where you feel the most tension.
  7. Spend some time (25 seconds) going over the most tenuous place.
  8. Switch sides.

Next you’ll want to flip over and take care of your glutes.

  1. Sit on your foam roller.
  2. Place your hands behind you and bend knees at a 45 degree angle.
  3. Cross a leg over the other so that the one ankle is on the outside of the other knee.  You might need to straighten the bottom leg to accomplish this.
  4. Twist your core just slightly in the direction opposite of how your leg is crossed.
  5. Roll up and down and identify tenuous spots.
  6. Spend 25 or so seconds applying pressure to these spots.

What’s the Deal with Hip Flexors and Back Pain?

Hip flexor muscles

If you have a sore back, you should know that one of the most often overlooked culprits is a tight psoas muscle, also known as a hip flexor. It originates from the T12 to L5 vertebrae in the lower back and then attaches at the hip bone.

One of the main and often overlooked culprits in low back pain is the psoas muscle, also known as the hip flexor.

The people that most often have problems with tight hip flexors are people who run, or sit a lot. Or, those who have different leg lengths.

If tight hip flexors are left untreated, the body will try to compensate by making sone changes which can often lead to additional symptoms include lower back pain.

You may have this problem if you have have pain in the lower back when sitting or standing, have a difficult time standing fully upright with good posture, experience pain in the glutes, or have radiating pain down one leg that stops above the knee.

How Often do I Foam Roll?

Many people use a back roller everyday.  You can consider it part of your stretching routing.  And like stretching, you can use the back roller before and/or after a workout, a physical day at work, or a day of sitting at a desk.

Make sure you go slow and don’t spend more than 25 to 30 seconds on any tenuous area in a given session.

And, you don’t have to be experiencing back pain in order to use a back roller.  We suggest everyone use foam rollers. There are several preventative benefits and many people find it an easy and comparatively inexpensive option over professional massage.

Learn More about the Types of Foam Rollers you can Buy

We hope that you found these videos helpful for learning how to use a foam roller for back pain. You’ll generally find that using a foam roller consistently over the course of a few weeks will help lessen the pain that you might have.

If you’re a beginner to foam rolling, and are looking for some advice about which foam roller to buy, then you’ll need to check out our article: Types of Foam Rollers. Or, check out our #1 pick for foam roller: Best Foam Roller for Back.

What should I Consider when Shopping for a Back Roller?

First, consider size.  The three common sizes are:

  • Small (12 inches long)
  • Medium (18 inches long)
  • Large (36 inches long)

If you travel a lot, go small.  But for your home use and for most back sizes, a large size will work best.

Next, think about density of the foam.

  • A softer foam will be cheaper, warp faster, and over time become immobile.
  • A more dense foam will feel more intense when you use it, but it will last a lot longer and provide a more helpful massage.

Finally, you need to look at the design of a back roller.

  • Common design is smooth and cylinder shaped.
    • Pros: Intense massage with longer lasting relief
    • Cons: Can be painful.
  • Beginner design has knobs on it and still cylinder shaped.
    • Pros: Less intense for beginners & can reach smaller muscle groups.
    • Cons: Can take longer for affects to take hold.

Compare Foam Rollers

Do you want to know which foam rollers we recommend? Check out some of our top picks in this handy chart below:

Comparison Chart

41rjetHWUeL. SL500
TriggerPoint Grid Foam Roller with Free Online Instructional Videos, Original (13-Inch), Lime
51jOvbox cL. SL500
LuxFit Extra Firm Speckled Foam Roller with Online Instructional Video (Blue, 18-Inch)
51T6X9HGjeS. SL500
AmazonBasics High-Density Round Foam Roller – 12-Inches

What about the TheraCane?

If you suffer from neck, shoulder, or back pain, then you should seriously consider the Thera Cane. It’s shaped like a candy cane, and it’s easy to get into those small spots on your back or around your shoulder blades without that much effort.

Many people find that this back massager is ideal for getting out those knots and kinks. Use it at night for a few minutes and then again in the morning for some serious relief.

Sounds like the right tool for you? We generally like to use it for middle back pain because it can hit those knots and trigger points like almost nothing else can. Learn more about an alternative to a foam roller here:

Thera Cane Massager (Blue)

31DGrWK+OwL. SL500

Tips for Preventing Back Pain

One of the easiest ways to deal with back pain is to just prevent it in the first place. Here are some of the most common tips and tricks.

Stay Limber

Regularly stretch, move around and do things like use a foam roller on tight muscles. Also consider taking a yoga class to increase your flexibility.

You may also consider regular appointments with a massage therapist to take care of and relieve any muscle soreness in your body. If this isn’t possible, a foam roller does much the same thing, just be sure to use it regularly and learn the correct technique.

Use Correct Posture

You can prevent many back problems by having good posture. Stand up straight, like there’s a string pulling the top of your head and down through your spine towards the ceiling. Roll your shoulders back and don’t slouch. Tall and proud is the key!

Also pay attention to how you look at your computer screen, particularly a laptop. Often, people bend their neck to look down at it. Ideally, it should be naturally at eye level, so you may have to get a separate keyboard to make this happen.

Avoid Sitting, or Standing Too Much

Standing all the time is kind of hard on the body, as is sitting. In fact, many people these days are sitting themselves to death and this is one of the leading causes of back pain.

If possible, try a mix of both when at work during the day. An adjustable standing/sitting desk is perfect for this. Try one hour sitting and then one hour standing. Or, consider a treadmill desk where you can very slowly walk while you work.

Then at night, instead of just driving home, eating dinner and then plopping yourself down on the sofa for some TV viewing. Try going for a walk, or join a fitness class or sport team! Make it a daily practice to be active.

The solution to sitting too much doesn’t have to be that difficult. Make it a point to get up and walk around at least once an hour (every 30 minutes is best). Go for a walk on your lunch break, or a quick walk around the office on your coffee break. Instead of standing and watching your kid’s soccer practice, walk around the field. Walk to the corner store instead of driving.

Lose Some Weight (Maybe)

If you’re overweight, it can be hard on all joints in the body, including your back. Consider dropping a few pounds and you may find that your back gets better with time.

Final Thought on Back Pain and Foam Rolling

We use our backs every day and all day.  Whether you are experiencing tension or have had a recent injury, or just want to maintain flexibility and muscle suppleness, a back roller can be your best friend.

There is a reason why back rollers are common place for elite athletes and those in physical therapy.  The complex system of the back must endure and perform.  By adding foam rolling to your back strengthening program will keep muscles, joints, and ligaments ready for tomorrow. A roller for back pain is a nice part of the solution to pain-free living.

Have your Say about these Foam Rolling Stretches for Back Pain

Do you have one or two go-to exercises for foam roller exercises if you have back pain? Or, you have a recommendation for foam roller for the back? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think. We’d love to hear from you.

Also be sure to give this article a share on Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter. It’ll help other people with back pain find this useful resource.

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