Foam Rolling for Back Pain Relief and More

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Foam rolling is an effective way to relieve muscle soreness, possibly increase your range of motion, and reduce muscle tension. There are a few different foam rollers available suited for different purposes.

Choose the one that’s right for you and you could be feeling relief sooner than expected! Aside from pain relief, they offer a wide range of benefits to keep you moving.

What is Foam Rolling?

First of all foam rollers are exactly what they sound like, a cylinder of stiff foam. They come in many shapes and sizes with varying textures. Typically these are used to massage muscles by placing them on the floor and using body weight to slowly move your body up and down the roller, applying pressure to targeted areas.

Foam rollers have been used by elite athletes and trainers for a while, but are becoming increasingly common in gyms and homes.

Benefits of Foam Rolling

Using a foam roller for self-massage is a great way to help sore muscles, relieve tension, and stay socially distanced. Rolling helps sore muscles by breaking up the fascia, which is the network of tissue that connects your muscles.  Rolling can help relieve muscle soreness while improving tightness and potentially helping improve range of motion.

Foam rollers can be used to warm up before exercise or to help post work out recovery. In general, they can be used to improve your movement and help you physically feel better before or after a workout.


As foam rollers have become popular they have found their way into some exercise programs.  Pilates and yoga use rollers to create an instability that is beneficial to core work, increasing strength and balance.

Aside from providing relief, you can incorporate them into your workouts as well!

Increase Range of Motion

More research is needed to fully understand why, but foam rolling is believed to have benefits for your range of motion.  Early evidence suggests a combination of foam rolling and stretching is better for improving flexibility than either foam rolling or stretching alone.

If you struggle with flexibility, trying a program of combined foam rolling and stretching could be the boost you need.

Choosing a foam roller

As mentioned earlier, foam rollers come in all manner of sizes, materials, and textures.  So how do you choose? A standard density roller has a medium firmness, and work for both self-massage and exercise.  They are firm enough for massaging but have just a bit of softness so it won’t feel like you are rolling on a rock.

A soft density roller has more give, but as a result, doesn’t give the deep massage the standard density roller gives. However, it is all some people can take, so know your body and make the best choice for you. If you prefer softer massages over deep tissue, choose a softer roller.

Other rollers have hit the market with unique textures or shapes meant for specific purposes. Smaller diameter rollers are more stable for people who could benefit from the stability of being closer to the floor.  Some have textures such as ribs and spikes meant to really dig into tight muscles and really break up tight tissue.

Foam rolling can be a huge benefit to people who have muscle pain or want a boost to their post-workout recovery.  Take a look at the types available and see what fits your needs and your body.

You are the only one that will know whether you want a lighter massage or something more intense, or whether you would benefit from ridges or the somewhat intimidating spikes.  Once you get into foam rolling you may decide you could benefit from more than one.