Upper Body Stretch Routine – With the Help of a Foam Roller

Have you ever thought that foam rolling could actually increase your muscle productivity and decrease soreness after a workout? Well, it sure can. I’m here to tell you that if you commit to using a foam roller as part of your upper body stretch routine you are going to see some really great benefits! After reading through this and trying out these eight stretches, you’re going to discover that it’s not just about pumping iron and being done for the day…no, no, no..it’s more than that.

You gave your muscles the burn they deserved, now it’s time to give them the massage they deserve with that trusty foam roller of yours!

Why would you stretch out the upper body?

Well, there’s lots of great reasons I could put here, but just think about this for a second.

This being your upper body…it’s half of your body! There are so many muscle groups in the upper body. I”m talking about the deltoids (front shoulder), pectorals (chest), trapezius (upper back/back of shoulder), latissmus dorsi (mid back), biceps, triceps (front and back arm), brachioradialis (forearm)..and more.

Here’s are some pictures representing these muscle groups.

Medical image displaying the muscles of the arms, back, and chest
Picture of the muscle groups in the upper body

Some of my top reasons why you should stretch out your upper body…

  1. Stretching your upper body allows you more range of movement.
  2. Helps maintain muscle health and promote growth.
  3. Relieves soreness throughout many, many major muscle groups.
  4. Daily tasks will become easier to manage.

These muscles are so very important to being able to accomplish your daily tasks, you’ve gotta take care of them. Don’t neglect to stretch the upper half of your body….especially after an intense push and pull workout.

The foam roller exercises are below. Make sure to spend 3-5 minutes on each move!

Eight Awesome Upper Body Stretches!

1. Forearm Flexor Stretch

Forearm Flex Stretch
Pressing on your forearm with a foam roller
  • Place your forearm on your roller.
  • Press and slowly move back and forth on the front and back of your forearm.
  • Use your other arm to add more pressure.
  • Switch arms and repeat.

2. Bicep Roller

Bicep-Foam-Roller-stretch
  • Place your bicep on your roller.
  • Add pressure and move your bicep back and forth.
  • Make sure to get the full length of your bicep (upper and lower).
  • Switch arms and repeat.

3. Tricep Press

Tricep-press-extension
  • Place your tricep on your roller.
  • Just like forearm and bicep, press on your roller with your tricep.
  • Move back and forth slowly, feeling the massage/press of your muscle.
  • Switch arms and repeat.

4. Thoracic Extension

Thoratic-Extension-with-upper-back
Thoracic-Extension-upper-back
  • Place your roller where your shoulders would be.
  • Lay down on it where your upper back and shoulders are laying across the roller.
  • Place your hands behind your head and interlace your fingers.
  • Raise your hips and torso to add pressure to your upper back.
    • If you need more support, keep your hips on the floor.

5. Roller Angel

Roller-angel-upper-and-lower-back
Roller-angel-foam-roller-exercises
  • Place your foam roller between your shoulder blades.
    • It should be under you and all the way to your lower back.
  • Move slowly side to side, massaging the upper and lower back.
  • Move your hands from beside your head to past your head.
  • Repeat this 5-10 times slowly.

6. LAT Presser

Shoulder-Presser
  • Place your roller under your shoulders (should be on both shoulders)
  • Roll to your right shoulder and press down onto that shoulder.
  • Make sure to feel the press from the top, middle, and bottom of the back of your shoulder.
  • Move over to the inner area right beside your shoulder blade as well.
  • Switch to your left shoulder and repeat.
  • As always, if you need support…move your whole body down to the floor.

7. Pectoral/Chest Release

Pectoral-release-foam-roller-stretch
  • Move your roller to where it’s under your chest area. (Ladies make sure to focus on the upper chest, not lower )
  • Support yourself with your arms and move area the pectoral (chest) area feeling the massage.
  • Move over to the other side of your chest.
  • Don’t forget to breathe through this.

8. Upper Back Knead

Lat-upper-back-press-foam-roller
  • This is very similar to the thoracic extension.
  • Place your roller under you and lay on it where your roller is under your upper back.
  • Move your hands to your upper legs.
  • Knead (roll) back and forth slowly from the top of your upper back to the bottom of your upper back.
  • Don’t go past where your elbows are.

Consistency is Key

Will your muscles benefit through this workout? Yes, absolutely! But remember, nothing will get more manageable or less strained if you don’t stay consistent with it. If you don’t make it a habit to foam roll these large and necessary muscle groups, you are more prone to injury and experiencing more pain. If you listen to your body and devote time to rolling out these major muscles, you are going to feel the fruits of your labor! This will, in turn, give your next workout a huge boost with less soreness.

You can’t do this routine once and expect it to improve all of your aches and pains. Just like yoga, pilates, and traditional stretching, you’ve got to put this into practice 2-3 times a week for it to really catch on. Your body will start to respond and you will feel the change, a change for the better. Your soreness will be so much less than it was and your muscles will thank you! Can you hear them now?

Biceps: (In a Whisper) Thank you!

Me: You’re quite welcome!

Develop a Schedule

So, once you’ve achieved some consistency (maybe you’ve done the routine a few times)..now’s the time to make it part of the schedule of your workouts! I would recommend performing these stretches after you’ve finished your workout (upper body workouts.) If you “warm-up” with this sort of routine, you could damage some muscles. That’s because it’s not good to stretch cold muscles! If you still would rather press into these muscles before a workout, I would suggest you go for a quick run or jog in place (jumping jacks work really well also). Get the blood pumping and then go for it!

Hopefully, this unique stretch routine for your upper body has shed light on how important taking care of your upper body is. Your foam roller is sitting there….grab it and get rolling!

If you have any questions or concerns please email me. Please comment below and let me know if you tried any of the exercises and if they brought you comfort. Also, let me know if this routine has helped reduce your soreness after a tough upper body workout.

To your health,

Ryan

ryan@youroller.com

Foam Roller Exercises for Sciatica – It doesn’t have to be painful

My aim with this article is to talk about sciatica and how you can actually use a foam roller and related stretches to alleviate that pain. If you don’t know what this condition is then stay tuned to find out more about it. Below you will find out what sciatica is, approximately how many people suffer from it and some helpful foam roller exercises for sciatica.

Warning: Some of these moves will require you to get close to your lower back. Please remember if you suffer from a herniated disc (known as a mechanical injury) you should consult your doctor before foam rolling on my lower back.

What is Sciatica?

When you’re talking about the condition known as Sciatica, you’re talking about irritation along the path of the sciatic nerve. This is a nerve that starts branching off at your lower hip area, goes through your buttocks and down your upper and lower leg. Think of this nerve as a central nerve. If this nerve gets compressed or pinched, the whole operation goes downhill. Moving becomes difficult and painful…not to mention, exercise! How can you even think about exercise with this going on?Sciatic-Nerve-Pain

According to the mayo clinic, sciatica happens when that sciatic nerve gets compressed by an issue with the spine. This can be caused by a herniated disc, bone spur on the spine, or a when the spine narrows through spinal stenosis.

Sciatica delivers a burning sensation and can be very painful, but don’t stress, it can be alleviated!

Who does it affect?

Did you know according to the National Institute of Health, that this condition affects n general an estimated 5%-10% of patients with low back pain? People are having to deal with this issue and we have to be aware of it.

It has a greater effect on…

    • Taller people
    • People within ages 45-64 years old
    • Smokers
    • People of drive constantly for a living
    • People who have a job that requires heavy lifting, bending and twisting.

This also has an effect on anybody who is not using proper form when exercising (weight lifting, yoga, stretching, Pilates, running, you name it!)

What can you do to make it less painful?

People with temporary sciatica nerve pain can stretch it out …or wait it out (I wouldn’t recommend that.) They can also use a foam roller!

But what about men and women dealing with chronic sciatic pain from herniated disc issues?

Can they benefit from a foam roller too? I’m glad you asked…of course they can! I guarantee you if you take your time and consistently practice these five exercises for sciatic nerve pain, you will be on your way to a life with much less daily pain.

Foam Roller Exercises for Sciatica that will Help you improve!

These don’t have to be performed in any particular order, but if you like my order here, feel free to go by that or pick which ones would work best for you and your situation!

1.) Hamstring Roll Out (60 seconds per side)
    • Go back and forth through the whole length of your hamstring.
    • Make sure you take your time with a slow roll.
    • Support yourself with your hands. If the pressure is too much, go to your elbows.

Hamstring-Rollout-with-foam-roller

2.) Pigeon (30 seconds per side)
    • Get into pigeon pose.
      • Take your left foot and extend it all the way up in front on your right knee.
      • Place the foam roller in front of your right knee and left foot.
    • Sit on the roller pressing into the top of your hamstring and lower glute.
    • Hold the pose and press in steadily.
    • Switch to the other side and repeat.

Pigeon-with-foam-roller-for-sciatica

3.) IT Band Rollout (60 seconds per side)
    • Turn on your side, right elbow on the floor.
    • Inset foam roller under your the upper side of your right leg.
      • Bend your left leg for support.
    • Press into your cushion right under your hip area (not on your hip bone.)
    • Switch to your other side and repeat.

IT Band-Rollout-with-a-foam-roller-for-sciatica

4.) Knee-to-chest stretch (30 seconds per side)

Warning: This stretch requires use of your lower back

    • Lay on your back
    • Place the foam roller under your glutes.
      • Bring your right knee towards your chest.
      • Place your left leg on the floor
    • Feel the pressure on those glutes and keep that angle.
    • Repeat on your right glute.

Knee-to-chest-stretch-with-a-foam-roller-for-sciatica

5.) Leg raises (10 Reps per side)

Warning: This stretch requires the use of your lower back

    • This is very similar to the knee-to-chest stretch but with some changes.
    • Place the foam roller under you where it will be running down the middle of your spine.
      • It should be between your shoulder blades and going all the way to your lower back.
    • Lay on it, place your left foot on the floor, bring your right foot to the sky.
    • Lift up, performing a leg raise slowly.
    • Make it a concentrated effort, not frenzied. (Slow and steady)

Leg-raises-with-a-foam-roller-for-sciatica

Conclusion

So, as you start to practice these exercises consistently and feel more comfort with them, up the ante (just a little) and add more pressure, add more time on to each move. You’ll start to see increased mobility and…less pain! Wouldn’t that be great! Just imagine, you can actually have a huge hand in lowering your daily pain levels. That just makes me happy thinking about it. No pills needed…just good ‘ol stretching.

Remember, it’s not going to fix all problems and I’m not a doctor…but I’ve experienced healing with this myself in different ways. Also, my wife did this not too long ago….and within about 10 minutes, she already was feeling some pain relief. It’s amazing what can happen if we treat our bodies with the healing power they deserve!

You are doing this for you, not for me. If it’s painful, stop and reassess your situation.

Ask yourself….

  • Should I be at this angle?
  • Am I feeling a stretch? Is it too much or loo little?
  • Would it help if I supported myself more and put less pressure on my problem area (hip area)?
  • Could I try adjusting my hips a little more to the left or to the right?

Please consult a doctor if your sciatica isn’t going away and ask about if using a foam roller is right for you. If it is, then please…go out and get one! It will make things so much better. Foam rolling can help with so many issues.

If you haven’t checked out my post on the Health Benefits of Foam Rolling …then please go to that post here and learn more about how amazing it can be for your health. Also, check out my post here on the different types of foam rollers out there and what would be best for you!

I hope and pray that this has been helpful to you as you move along on your journey to better health. If you try this workout, let me know how it went and if it helped you.

As always, I invite you to leave any comments, concerns, or questions down below in the comments section.

To your continued health,

Ryan

Reference Websites for this post

National Institute of Health – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1895638/

The Mayo Clinic – https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sciatica/doctors-departments/ddc-20377442