You don’t have to be an athlete to take advantage of using a foam roller. Many people find that foam rolling can be incredibly relaxing when they use it on their shoulders and neck. Foam rolling, the practice of using a simple foam roller on the body, can be similar to deep tissue massage. Those who love using foam rollers swear by their ability to remove knots, or pressure points, in the muscles. When someone is prone to stress, the neck and the shoulders are often the first part of the body to tighten in response to the stress. In this article, we will discuss foam rolling techniques for the neck and the shoulders.
Foam rolling for thoracic spine
Much of the tension in the back is located in the upper back and shoulders. Many of the muscles surrounding the shoulder blades are in the upper back and can be relaxed by doing a thoracic spine foam roll. To do this, place the foam roller perpendicular across the back, just underneath the shoulder blades. Bend your knees and place both feet flat on the floor. Slowly roll up and down the length of your back from the bottom of your shoulder blades to the base of the neck. Your arms can either be crossed on the chest or extended overhead.
Foam rolling for pectoral stretch
This move is designed to relieve shoulder tension and stress. It also helps to correct poor posture by relaxing the shoulder blades. To do this, lie down with the foam roller running parallel to the spine. Put your feet flat on the floor and rest your arms by your side. Breathe deeply and relax into the position. With palms facing up, stretch your arms out to the side allowing the pectorals to stretch. Hold this position for thirty seconds to a minute.
Arm circles on a foam roller
This exercise helps to isolate tense shoulder muscles, helping them relax and relieve tension. Beginning in the same position as the pectoral stretch, stretch the arms outward. Keep abdominals engaged and stabilize the shoulders. Make five big circles with the arms, trying to brush the floor with your hands. If it is uncomfortable, make sure not to force anything. Repeat this same move in the opposite direction.
Rhomboid release on a foam roller
This is another exercise performed on a foam roller that helps to isolate shoulder muscles to relieve tension. To do this move, start in the same position as the arm circles and pectoral stretch. Place your arms outward with elbows bent and palms facing up, in a “goal post” position. Keep forearms parallel to the floor during this stretch. Lift your forearms above the head and slide them back down. Make sure to keep shoulder blades and core stabilized. This uses the roller to massage the muscles between the shoulder blades. Repeat this stretch up to five times.
Chest lift on a foam roller
Start out this exercise by keeping feet flat on the floor and the foam roller placed the same position as the rhomboid release exercise. Interlace the hands behind the head to support your neck. Keep elbows straight outward and wide. Take a deep breath and lift your chest, folding underneath the ribs. Repeat this move 5-10 times.
Foam rolling for lats
To relieve stress on the lats, lay on the floor on your right side. With the right leg flat and the knee bent 90 degrees, lift up your left leg and place the foot flat on the floor. Position the center of the foam roller underneath the right arm pit. Extend the right arm straight above your head and roll with the foam roller perpendicular to the body. Roll from the armpit down the waist and back again for up to a minute. Switch and repeat on the other side.
Foam rolling for the neck
While it is not recommended to actually use a foam roller directly on the neck, it can be used for gentle alignment work. To help relieve stress in the neck, lay with your back on the floor placing the foam roller underneath the neck. Take turns turning your head left and right so the roller is hitting muscles and not any bones. When it comes to using the foam roller on the neck, the roller is placed underneath the neck until a sore spot is found and released. Do this exercise for up to a minute.
While it may seem daunting, using a foam roller on the shoulders and neck can go a long way toward relieving tense shoulder and neck muscles.