Working on your desk for prolonged hours can adversely affect your posture. Most people do not use an ergonomic chair, and while using the computer, we often find ourselves slouching. Due to these poor habits, you will begin to suffer from neck and lower back pain. In this article, we discuss the foam roller exercises that relieve your back or neck pain.
If you have ever found yourself agonizing how to work out the knots in your muscles after spending a long day hunched over your computer, using a foam roller could do the trick. It is perhaps the quickest and most affordable way you can give yourself a deep tissue massage.
Foam rolling, also known as Self-Myofascial Release, is one of the most effective ways an individual can correct poor posture. The principle here is much similar to deep tissue massage, which works by relaxing the deep muscles as well as the fascia.
A foam roller is a cylindrical piece of equipment ubiquitous at the gym that is made up of an EVA foam, which is a type of polymer. The primary function of a foam roller is to release the knots formed on your muscles as a result of prolonged sitting or physical activity. It can also be used for muscle relaxation. Foam rolling also helps boost circulation.
Foam Rollers and Poor Posture
Living a sedentary lifestyle is quite dangerous, and if ignored, could lead to several ailments, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, lousy posture, among other lifestyle changing illnesses. Sitting for prolonged periods forces the muscles located at the posterior part of the body to weaken and lengthen, while the muscles at the anterior tighten. This leads to sore muscles, subluxations, spinal curvature, nerve, and blood vessel constriction.
There are two methods you can use to correct poor posture, strength training to harden weak muscles and deep tissue massage or foam rolling to loosen up tightened muscles. Foam rolling can also be used to relax your muscles after a workout session.
Benefits of Foam Rolling
One of the main benefits of foam rolling is that it helps smoothen out and hydrate the fascia. This action oxygenates your blood improving circulation, flushing toxins, and boosting lymphatic drainage throughout your body.
Using a foam roller also helps in lubricating your joint, reducing body inflammation while also increasing your flexibility and range of motion. It works to improve the connection to your core muscles that tend to lose connectivity as we grow old. All in all, the foam roller is fantastic equipment for overall fitness, health, and vitality.
The foam roller also works to boost lubrication and circulation to the tissues and organs, making the skin and muscles look more supple. Regularly using a foam roller will also stimulate your lymphatic system, flushing out toxins and getting rid of bloating, reducing cellulite.
Picking out a Foam Roller
Foam rollers aren’t hard to find. They are everywhere, from large sports retail shops to eCommerce portals online. Since this piece of equipment comes in different dimensions, choosing the right one for your needs is vital.
Foam rollers are available in two sizes- short and long. It is essential to pick a foam roller based on your fitness level. Generally, the more extended versions of the foam rollers are ideal for beginners, while the shorter ones are recommended for intermediate or expert users.
When shopping for foam rollers, you will discover that they come in a wide range of densities and are differentiated through a color-coding mechanism; white is the lightest, blue for medium density, and black indicating high density. You must choose the most ideal for your needs.
Regular Foam Roller Exercises
There are several reasons why you could be suffering from lower and upper back pain, which can cause a lot of suffering. The main culprit is often living a sedentary lifestyle, poor back postures, or even improper weight lifting. With proper foam rolling exercises, individuals can quickly get rid of back pain.
While sitting down, the hip flexors are in a shortened position. That coupled with a slumped posture rocking your pelvis backward into a posterior tilt for extended hours will lead to tightening hips. The iliopsoas is one of your primary hip flexors, but due to its location in the abdomen, it’s impractical to foam roll this muscle. However, you could still work your quad muscles and sartorius along the fascia.
- Find the hip bones located at the front of your pelvis. The area to work is situated between the front of your pelvis and the top of your thighs. Lie down in a face-down position placing the roller where your hips meet the pelvis.
- Now, support yourself using your elbows like you would in a plank position. Avoid rolling higher than your hip bones. By just staying still and allowing your hips to rest in the foam roller will give a relieving effect. Do this for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
The hamstrings are a group of three muscles essential for the flexion of the knee and extension of the thigh. They work to reduce the curvature of the lower part of the spine that causes back pain and poor posture. It is therefore essential that you maintain your range of motion by:
- Put your right hamstrings on the foam roller. Now, bend your left knee so that the foot is on the ground. You can place your hands behind the floor for assistance.
- Now, slowly move towards your pelvis. If you are just beginning, do this for 90 seconds.
Your glutes usually are cranky from all the sitting we do all day long. It is essential to note that your glute strength is important for the protection of the lower back. Unfortunately, they don’t get used much by sitting all day long at the desk.
- Sit on your foam roller and get support by placing your hands behind you on the floor. Ensure your feet are flat on the floor in a crab walk position.
- One side at a time, shift over onto one glut, slowly rolling back and forth. Cross your ankle to the opposite knee in a figure four position to help intensify the stretch.
Your thoracic muscles are the postural muscles that help you to balance the forward head posture. These muscles often get affected when you poorly bend in front of the computer, applying excessive pressure on the muscles leading to pain.
- Place the foam roller under your upper back. Interlock your fingers placing them under your head to offer support.
- Now, slowly move back and forth, holding in between for three seconds. Do a minimum of 10 repetitions. Also, make sure that you are moving to a different spot in every repetition.
Working on your desk for prolonged periods often leads to a rounded back shoulder posture. The forward rounding places force your pectoral muscles in a shortened position. You can fix this by opening up your chest. It is recommended that you use a 36-inch foam roller for this exercise.
- Lie down on your foam roller so that it is along your spine, and your head and sacrum are supported. Now, slowly extend your arms to a T-position and hold it for 30-seconds.
- You can do variations where you place your arm in a “Y” or goal post position. Please note some positions will be more intense than others.
- This option may offer high intensity for some individuals since the foam roller lifts you giving extra space. In case you experience some pain or tingling, you could try this workout without the roller and work towards it as your mobility and flexibility improve.
This exercise is best for mobilizing your shoulder joint and opening up your pec muscles. Please note that the height of your foam roller will allow for additional movement.
- Lie down on your foam roller so that it is along your spine, ensuring both your head and sacrum have support. Clasp your hands at the back of your neck without lifting your head.
- Slowly bring your elbows towards your nose (they don’t have to get into contact). Now, gently let your elbows relax to the ground. Do between 10 to 20 repetitions.
Things to Avoid Doing on Your Foam Roller
- Avoid rapidly or aggressively rolling over tissue without control
- Do not roll over bony areas, for example, the side of the hip
- Avoid placing any direct pressure on your arteries, nerves, veins, or abdomen.
- Do not use the foam roller after a recent injury or surgery
- In case you have a medical condition, it is essential to seek assistance from your physician before using the foam roller.
Using the foam roller is one of the latest and best therapies for individuals suffering from poor posture as well as lower back injuries. The foam rollers are quite easy to use and only require a few minutes of your time each day.
For best results, users are advised to adjust their schedules to exercise daily in the morning. Remember, it is essential to sit in an ergonomic chair while working on your computer for long hours. Also, avoid living a sedentary lifestyle and include regular exercises to improve your overall posture.