When most people think of foam rolling they think of basic mobility. They presume the foam roller (specifically upper body) can only be used for a couple of cracks for your back and that’s it. Actually the foam roller is one of my favorite tools for advanced mobility. It may not be as specific as trigger point, but it gets the job done. Let’s start with the posterior chain of our upper body:

Guidelines:

  1. Roll 1 – 2 inches per second.
  2. Avoid the Lower Back and Neck
  3.  Roll for at least 30 seconds and no longer than 90 seconds.
  4. Avoid rolling on Joints/Bone (the upper/mid-back is an exception).

1. The mid to upper back portion: While hugging yourself and coming up into a bridge you want to start at about the bottom portion of the ribs (avoiding the lower back) working all the way up as high as the shoulders (avoiding the neck).

2. The Lats: While still hugging yourself you want to slightly turn over on an angle (not directly on your side) work half way down the rib cage and all the way up to your rear shoulder.

3. The Rear Delt: (upper back / rear shoulder). Raising your arm up behind your head while pointing your thumb down allows for a nice stretch and exposes the shoulder for a deeper tissue massage. You can also do this one with both arms or experiment with different angles of your shoulder.

4. Foam Roller Angels: (Wall Angels) Similar to wall angels; you want your lower back flat against the foam roller/wall while externally rotating your shoulders trying to touch your wrists and elbows to the floor. This is more of a stretch, but it is worth adding in.

5. Spinal Stretch: Start from the mid/lower back working all the way up to the upper back trying to round out against the foam roller while reaching and extending both arms behind you. *Avoid the lower back*

6. The Pec: This one is actually quite tricky, but is very effective if performed correctly. Start by laying on the foam roller length-wise on a slight angle tilted towards your head. You are primarily trying to hit the outer portion of the pec major (near the pec minor) Start from the front shoulder working all the way in as far as you can while having your arm externally rotated and your body tilted away from the foam roller allowing for a deep stretch. The key is to stretch and roll at the same time!

7. The Front Delt: Unlike the pec, you want to internally rotate the shoulder to expose the front delt. Very similar to the previous mobility exercise, yet a much more specific area. You can perform this exercise both length-wise and width-wise with the foam roller.

8. The Medial Delt: (Side of the shoulder) Very simple to perform, just lay on your side working the side of your shoulder now lower than the mid portion of your arm. Play with this one rotating forward and leaning backwards for different angles.

9. The Triceps: Still laying on your side just place your arm in front of the foam roller and bend your elbow towards your head allowing for a deep stretch. Once again perform this one with various angles.

10. The Biceps: Similar to the front delt angle just lay the front of your arm (the biceps) on the foam roller will turning away to allow for a nice stretch on the shoulder and biceps. Perform this one all the way from the elbow to the shoulder.