Foam Roller Exercises for Upper Back

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We present foam roller exercises developed using soma system foundational principles. As compared to traditional foam roller exercises, soma system inspired foam rolling emphasizes comfort of the practitioner, breathing and alignment. We focus on three types of techniques: rolling, pin & stretch and postural stretching.

While foam roller is a great introductory tool, it lacks specificity of more advanced self bodywork tools. Picture below shows comparative size of the traditional foam roller compared to soma system tools. Smallest soma system ball is substantially smaller and therefore provides much better means to isolate and release small tight spots of tension, which are impossible to isolate using traditional foam roller.

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Therefore, at the end of this section we present more advanced techniques using soma system tools.

 

Rolling Techniques    Screen Shot 2015-01-15 at 8.17.23 PM

 

Screen Shot 2015-01-17 at 9.29.20 PMPin & Stretch Techniques

 

Screen Shot 2015-01-15 at 8.19.14 PMPostural Stretching Techniques

Double_track_roller_edited_021420141.jpgAdvanced Techniques

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Foam Rolling Techniques for Upper Back

Exercise 1: Foam Rolling

Screen Shot 2015-01-15 at 8.16.51 PMRest your upper body on 3 foam rollers: lower foam roller under sacrum, middle foam roller under upper back and upper foam roller is supporting head. Make sure you are comfortable and sensations are not too intense. Close your eyes. Take three slow abdominal breaths. Use your feet to push off the ground and move your upper body away from the feet by 1-2 inches and then return to the initial position by bringing your upper body closer to the feet.  Pay close attention to your sensations coming from upper back and you may discover that some spots are more tender than the others. Repeat 5 times.

You can also perform this exercise on two foam rollers, but you will have to maintain your pelvis in the air. This is not idea as it is better to allow entire body to rest comfortably, so that you can focus your awareness on upper back.

Screen Shot 2015-01-15 at 8.21.49 PMRest your upper body on two foam rollers. One foam roller supports your head and the other is under your mid or upper back. Push off with your feet and perform five mini-rolls with each mini-roll being only 1-2 inches. Maintain neutral pelvic tilt and keep pelvis above horizontal line going through your upper body. Control intensity of your experience in the upper back by moving your hips slightly higher (for more intense experience) or lower (to lessen the intensity).

You can also perform rolling with one foam roller. One traditional way to foam roll upper back with one foam roller is by resting your hands on your chest. We strongly advise against this technique.

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Leaving your head hanging in the air without any support has following disadvantages:

— Your body will engage neck flexors to support your head in the air. Engaging muscles in one area of the body is likely to cause your body to automatically engage and tighten muscles in other parts of the body including your upper back.

—  To provide most effective muscle tension release, you need to place your nervous system in a relaxed state. Tightening neck flexors stimulates nervous system and thus may prevent you from getting the most out of the foam rolling.

— When foam rolling, you need to focus your sensory awareness on relatively small area you are foam rolling. This is absolutely essential for many reasons, one of which is very simple – you may encounter  very tight and tender spots and you have to have enough bodily awareness to notice this and work carefully on these spots.

Screen Shot 2015-01-17 at 8.49.51 PMIf you do choose to work with only one foam roller – you will need to support your head with you arms as shown on this picture. Also keep your core gently engaged to maintain your upper body parallel to the floor preventing anterior pelvic tilt.

Go To Exercise 2: Side Rolling

Exercise 2: Side Rolling

Screen Shot 2015-01-17 at 8.47.51 PMHug yourself, turn your upper body and hips to the right and by pushing with your feet against the floor perform five mini-rolls ny pushing with your feet off the floor and moving your upper body closer and away from your feet.

 

Screen Shot 2015-01-17 at 8.48.16 PM Turn your upper body to the left and repeat on the right side.

Go To Exercise 3: Rolling Across Foam Roller

Exercise 3: Rolling Across Foam Roller

 

Screen Shot 2015-01-15 at 8.18.43 PMHug yourself, inhale and roll your upper body and hips to the left. Exhale and roll your upper body and the hips to the right. Repeat five times.

 

 

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Go To Next Section: Pin and Stretch Techniques

Pin and Stretch 

Exercise 4: Upper Body Twists 

 

Screen Shot 2015-01-17 at 9.11.24 PMHug yourself, inhale and twist your upper body to the left while making sure your hips don’t move off the foam roller when you twist and stay parallel to the ground. This will allow you to experience a nice twist throughout your spine. To expand the twist along myofascial chain into the neck, turn your head to the left.

Screen Shot 2015-01-17 at 9.11.37 PM Repeat on the right side. To intensify the twist along myofascial chain into the neck, turn your head to the right.

 

Go To Exercise 5: Pelvic Tilts

Exercise 5: Pelvic Tilts

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Discontinue rolling. Inhale and gently bring your pelvis into anterior tilt; Exhale and bring your pelvis into posterior tilt. Repeat 5 times. This exercise gently massages fascia overlaying sacrum as well as gently stretch paraspinal muscles and accompanying facia that run along the spinal column.

Go To Next Section: Pin and Stretch with Hip Movements

 Pin and Stretch with Hip Movements

The following set of exercises is better to perform with two foam rollers. As compared to the three foam roller exercises, removing foam roller from under your hips allows you to

– Provide more intense stimulation of the upper back, especially when you lift your hips up

– Provides more freedom for your hips to move. While foam roller is pinning tissues in your upper back, moving hips provides a gentle pin and stretch action on the upper back.

 

Exercise 6: Lifting Hips

Screen Shot 2015-01-15 at 8.23.17 PMInhale and bring your pelvis into a gentle posterior tilt. While maintaining gentle posterior tilt of pelvis, exhale and slowly lift your hips up. Feel as intensity coming from your upper back foam roller increases. Inhale and release your hips to the initial position. Repeat five times.

 

Go To Next Exercise: Hip twists

Exercise 7: Hip Twists

Screen Shot 2015-01-17 at 9.29.20 PMInhale and twist you hips with left side of the hip going up and the right side of the hip going down. Exhale and twist to the other side with with right side of the hip going up and the left side of the hip going down. Make sure that your knees are not moving. You should feel a gentle twist moving up your spine as you twist your hips.

Foam Roller Exercise Pin and Stretch Hip Twist

Go To Next Exercise: Hip Side Movements

Exercise 8: Hip Side Movements

Screen Shot 2015-01-17 at 9.29.52 PMInhale and bring your hips to the left. Exhale and bring your hips to the right. Make your hips stay parallel to the floor.

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Go To Next Exercise: Hip Circles

Exercise 9: Hip Circles

Screen Shot 2015-01-17 at 9.30.38 PMSlowly and gently bring your hips up, then to the left, down and to the right, thus making a circle with your hips. Move very slowly and intentionally, continuously listening to the sensations coming from your back. Make sure that the movement feels comfortable. Repeat 5 times. Reverse direction and repeat another five times.

 

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Go To Next Exercise: Arm Extension

 

Exercise 10: Arm Extension

Screen Shot 2015-01-15 at 8.22.25 PMInhale, bring your pelvis into gentle posterior tilt. Slowly exhale and bring your arms behind your head. When you are bringing arms behind your head, your pelvis will tend to move into anterior tilt and your chest and ribs will tend to move slightly up and expand. Make sure that you keep your pelvis in a slight posterior tilt and keep your chest and ribs in. Repeat five times.

While maintaining your arms behind your head, repeat the five exercises described above:

– Lifting Hips

– Hip Twists

– Hip Side Movements

– Belly Dancing

– Upper Body Twists

Go To Next Section: Postural Stretching

 

Postural Stretching

Exercises 11: Hand Extension and Flexion. 

 

Screen Shot 2015-01-15 at 8.17.52 PMInhale, bring your pelvis into gentle posterior tilt. Slowly exhale and bring your arms behind your head. When you are bringing arms behind your head, your pelvis will tend to move into anterior tilt and your chest and ribs will tend to move slightly up and expand. Make sure that you keep your pelvis in a slight posterior tilt and keep your chest and ribs in. Repeat five times.Screen Shot 2015-01-15 at 8.18.10 PM

 

 

 

Go To Next Exercise: Chest Opening

Exercise 12: Chest Opening

Screen Shot 2015-01-15 at 8.18.28 PMBring your arms to the sides and let your chest gently expand sideways. Breathe and stay in this position for 1-2 minutes.

 

 

Go To Next Exercise: Flying Elbows

Exercise 13: Flying Elbows 

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Interlace your fingers behind your head. Your elbows are pointing upward. Inhale. Move your pelvis into a slight posterior pelvic tilt and and expand your elbows to the side. Repeat 5 times.

 

Screen Shot 2015-01-15 at 8.19.14 PMOnce again your pelvis will naturally try to move into anterior pelvic tilt and your chest will tend to expand. Make sure that you prevent this by moving very slowly and intentionally.

 

 

 

 

Advanced Techniques

Rolling with soma system double tracker

You will need the following tools:

Double_track_roller_edited_021420141.jpgDouble_track_roller_edited_021420141.jpgsoma_foam_roller_orange-384x349.jpg

 

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 6.04.12 PMPlace two soma system double trackers under your upper back and Upper Back Myofascial Release with 2 double trackers and foam rollerplace soma system foam support under your hips to increase pressure on the double track rollers and to assist with rolling.

 

Roll an inch or two up so that the Double Track Rollers compress the cord-like muscles that run along your spine. Rest your head on the floor. Roll an inch or two up and down. Maintain your head completely relaxed on the floor. As a result of mini rolling, your head will be nodding – as if you were saying yes.

For more techniques and videos please visit:

Upper Back Release with Double Trackers and Online Classes 

Upper Back Trigger Point Exploration

Tools you will need:

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Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 6.20.59 PMPlace the smallest ball from  soma system myofascial 5pack under right side of your Small ball from soma system 5 pack on upper backupper back between inner border of shoulder blade and spinal column. Make sure that the ball is not applying any pressure on the spinal column. Stay on one spot for 10-20 seconds making sure that sensation coming from upper back due to the ball is not too intense and is in fact pleasant. Slightly shift your upper body over the ball to a new spot. Breather and relax. Repeat on 5 more spots on the same side and then proceed to work on the left side.

For more techniques and videos please visit:

Upper Back Trigger Point Release and Online Classes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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