Using a Foam Roller to Eliminate Chronic Pain: 4 Moves to Try

4 Foam Roller Exercises to Try When You’re in Pain

Using a Foam Roller to Eliminate Chronic Pain: 4 Moves to Try

Do you have a foam roller living in your house? Maybe you bought it with intentions to figure out what to do with it… but didn’t know where to start. Maybe your foam roller is your best friend but you always do the same 2 things. Try these exercises to get a great stretch and work out tight muscles!

Sometimes foam rolling hurts. It’s important to distinguish what “hurts good” or is a strong stretch sensation rather than a pinch or pain. Pain should be avoided, but a mild discomfort of working on tight muscles is ok. Pay attention to your body’s threshold and go easy on yourself. More discomfort doesn’t mean you’re getting more out of it.

1. Pec Stretch – “W” and “T

This stretch feels AMAZING after feeding or holding a baby, sitting at a desk, or doing any exercise that involves upper body. Lay down on the roller with it supporting you from head to booty. Knees bent with feet on the ground for balance! Then relax your arms out to the sides in a “W.” Your forearms may not touch the ground when you start. You should feel a good stretch across your chest. Then try a “T” position with arms straight out to the sides. Spend 30 seconds in each position.

chest stretch foam roller back pain

2. Figure 4

Sitting on your foam roller, cross one ankle over your opposite knee. The leg that’s crossed over is the side you are focusing on. Lean towards that leg, and roll through your glutes (booty) on that side. Once you find a tight area, roll in small movements for several minutes until the muscle relaxes. 

glute stretch foam roller leg pain

3. Thoracic extension

Sitting on the ground, lower onto the foam roller with your forearms so it is in the middle of your upper back. Rest your booty on the ground and put your hands behind your head as you slowly relax over the roller. If the sensation is too much, try a rolled up yoga mat or pool noodle. Breathe and enjoy the stretch, then move an inch up or down on the roller to stretch multiple areas in your upper back. 

chest stretch foam roller back pain

3. Calf rolling

Sitting on the ground, extend your legs over the roller and get the “meaty” part of your calf on the roller. Cross your opposite ankle over and roll back and forth, again pausing and spending extra time once you find a tight spot. To get extra into this muscle, lift your hips off the ground as you use your arms to support you.

calf stretch foam roller leg pain

*This post is educational and not medical advice. Please consult your PT for information specific to your individual needs.

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