We live in a world where everything we do whether it’s desk sitting, driving, lying on the couch or daytoday chores all involve bending forward causing muscle and joint dysfunction. An effective way, outside of the clinic, is to stretch and mobilise your upper back using a foam roller to counteract the forward flexion to bring the body back into it’s correct anatomical position. This will improve any muscle pain and joint dysfunction through the thoracic region of our spine (the uppermost major curve).
Warm up: First we start with the foam roller horizontally across our upper back with our feet flat on the floor and our head, shoulders and pelvis all in line while our hands are interlocked supporting the head as our starting position. We then gradually move our body up and down on top of the foam roller ironing out the soft tissue and bringing the vertebrae into a slight extension.
Next we move on to a deeper thoracic extension stretch where we position ourself on top of the foam roller around our shoulder blades with our hands around the back of our head and extending backwards. Taking a deep breath and as we exhale, gradually bend back further on the foam roller for a deeper stretch. Rolling back up to our starting position and repeat for different segments of your upper back as to where the most tightness and restriction is.
Moving on, our new starting position is lying on top of the foam roller around the shoulder blade level with our head, upper back, lower back and hips all in a straight line. Dropping your hips for a stretch through the upper back followed by pushing down on your feet and lifting your hips up into a bridge position. We repeat this by lowering the pelvis down with the upper back extending backwards over the foam roller using our breathing to get into a deeper stretch as we exhale, and return to our bridging position.
To finish we turn the foam roller to a vertical position so our whole spine is on the foam roller with our head and our pelvis on each end. Starting with our feet spread apart for balance and our arms out at 90degrees, we lift our arms and focus on our breathing by getting a further stretch through our chest during exhalation. Repeat this by doing slow and controlled snow angels by bringing our arms up and down while keeping our lower back flat on the foam roller as it will want to arch up the higher our arms stretch.
Please note that this blog is a guide to postural correction and although foam rollers are a really effective tool to use for postural correction, they can be aggressive for those with certain acute or chronic issues. If you have any queries as to if this may or may not work for you please don’t hesitate to contact one of the myotherapists or physios at Richmond Rehab.
This article has been prepared by Kyle Michelle. If you have any questions for Kyle or would like to know more lower back exercises, please leave your comments below.