After a long day of sitting in your office chair, your back can easily get tight, stiff and achey. Add to it stress, squats and various spine crunching exercises that fitness people do, a back can go through a lot in a day. Many people hit up their chiropractor and spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars in effort to help “align” their spine and get some pain relief.
I have tried a chiropractor before, and was not thrilled with the results. I got some mild temporary relief, only to have the pain come back shortly after I got done handing them a pretty heft check. By accident, I discovered a much cheaper and I believe better method of loosening up your back and aligning your spine: the foam roller.
I purchased a dense foam roller from a local sports shop for about $25.00. I strongly recommend that you get the dense foam roller, as opposed to the softer, less expensive ones. They have their purpose as well, but for this particular application, a dense foam roller is by far the best. I went online to find some various “rolling techniques” in attempts to help my DOMS, or delayed onset muscle soreness. Basically, the soreness you incur the next day after hitting the workout hard. While I was experimenting with some various exercises, I found a very simple way to give some relief to my always achy back.
Here’s how: Lie down flat on your back in the middle of a room. Bend your knees, keep your core, back straight and a off the ground so your back is parallel in height to the foam roller. Place your heels on the flat on the floor. Put the dense foam roller underneath your head like a pillow. While raising yourself up slightly with your feet, push your legs backward so the foam roller slowly glides from the top of your back, all the way down to the top of your glutes. Then slowly start going the other direction, so that the foam roller rolls from the top of your glutes, all the way to the top of your back around your trapezius area. You can repeat this several times, as well as adjust how much pressure you are getting by how much you are lifting your body weight with your legs. The less you lif your bodyweight up, the more pressure you will feel from the foam roller.
While doing this, you will probably experience a lot of “popping, creaking and cracking”. The sound you hear is simply the slight separation of your joint surfaces. Doing this will often temporarily alleviate your muscle and joint tightness in your back. Yes, this is just temporary, much like a chiropractor is temporary. I do not recommend doing this multiple times a day, because you can get psychologically addicted to “popping your back” and build up a sort of dependency on it. I also do not recommend doing this as soon as you wake up, as your back is usually not warmed up enough and this could cause injury. I usually do it once a day, about an hour after I wake up before I hit the gym.
While the foam roller has multiple purposes, it comes in very handy as a much cheaper and in my opinion better answer to a chiropractor that you can do in the privacy of your own home without scheduling any appointments! Let us know your experiences using this method in the comments below.