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

8 Replies to “Upper Body Stretch Routine – With the Help of a Foam Roller”

  1. Thank you for this great article. In my experience foam rolling has been very helpful. Toward the end of 2018 I was able to start lifting again thanks to foam rolling. Previously I had gotten pain every time I tried lifting, I mean joint pain like shoulder impingement and that kind of thing. But then I found how to foam roll some areas, especially the chest and shoulder areas, and I was able to start lifting regularly. Now that I can lift weights without pain, I don’t really foam roll as much but I still do all the stretches. Even though I don’t foam roll every work out now, I still use it as needed, for example recently my upper trap got really tight and the foam rolling really help again.

    1. Wonderful, so happy to hear that using your foam roller has helped out and improved your training! It will always help,….never adds to the injury (unless you press too hard or too long.) It’s amazing how using a simple tool like a foam roller can radically reduce your pain and really improve your lifting! Congrats on getting back into it, so glad to hear this has benefited you. 

      Thanks so much for your comment!

      – Ryan

  2. Hi Ryan;

    I had never heard of using a foam roller to stretch, so you’ve definitely introduced me to something new and wonderful! Lol

    I have osteoporosis (weak bones), so I have to do weight-bearing exercises regularly to build up my bone mass and strengthen my muscles to avoid a fall. This idea of stretching with a foam roller is just what I need.

    I love that you’ve included photos to illustrate the process. I can see how it works and it looks like a nice way to get a good stretch. Definitely have to put a foam roller on my purchase list.

    Thanks!
    Stella 🙂

    1. Hey Stella!

      I’m so happy to introduce you to the wonderful world of foam rolling, haha! It really is such a great tool for recovery and mobility. There’s a bit of a learning curve, but once you get started and practice some with it, it gets better. Since you have osteoporosis, you will want to definitely support yourself while doing these stretches (you can still get some great benefits while laying your full body on the floor in these exercises. If you’re interested, please check out my post I wrote about the different types of foam rollers here. It will help you decide which one is best for you when you decide to purchase one. 

      If you have any questions, let me know. I want to make sure you benefit from this. 

      Take care and thanks for stopping by!

      – Ryan

  3. This was an article worth reading. I never even thought of doing stretches for my upper body after a workout. I will definitely start to incorporate the exercises into my daily workout routine. You explained the excersise routine so thoroughly, I can’t wait to do it. Thank you so much for the wonderful information you provided. 

    1. Alicia,

      Thanks so much for your comment! I’m really grateful to know that you’ve found this information really helpful. That means I did my job correctly! Yes, make sure to incorporate these stretches into your routine (even 2-3 of them will help tremendously!) Remember, take your time, start slowly, and breathe through each stretch. If you do that, your muscles will have a chance to breathe themselves, helping you to heal. 

      Thanks for stopping by. Be sure to let me know how it goes.

      – Ryan

  4. This is a great topic. I have a foam roller and have never used it. I wasn’t sure what to do with it. The pictures were very helpful to go along with the directions. I actually tried the exercises with my foam roller. I was a bit confused on two points. On exercise #5 The Roller Angel, you said to “Move your hands from beside your head to straight out in front of you.” However, the picture shows you with your hands above your head. Do you mean to put hands above the head or straight up in the air towards the ceiling? On exercise #6 LAT Presser you say to “Roll to your right shoulder and press down on that shoulder.” I found this impossible to do since I was flat onto both shoulders. Rolling just didn’t work? Is this something that will happen over time, maybe as I get stronger? Or more flexible?

    My favorite is #8 Upper Back Knead. That one felt the best. Thank you for stating not to go past the elbows. I neglected to read that and found it difficult to get the roller down to my lower back without my legs extending all the way. Then I read it again and realized I was doing it wrong. 

    Just a couple of grammatical things…under the section Why would you stretch out the upper body? in the second paragraph you forgot to close the parenthesis around, “(upper back/back of shoulder, latissmus doors (mid back 

    Under the section called, Some of my top reasons why you should stretch out your upper body… 1. “Stretch your upper body…” should be Stretching your upper body…- or better just “allows you more range of movement.” This way it would match the format of the rest of your numbered list.

    As I said, I tried these exercises. They are very helpful. I will incorporate them into my daily Yoga routine. Great job getting this information out. Thank you.

    1. Lana, 

      First off, thanks so much for checking this post out and taking the time to leave a comment…I really appreciate it! I’m so pleased to see you tried the exercises and they have helped you. Also feel free to modify them as you need to..if a certain position or posture works better to you and your body than I have described it here…by all means change it. All of us are different and what works for the beginner may not work for the advanced roller and vice versa. 

      Thank you for finding the grammatical errors and mistakes in my post, I missed them. Okay, now I’ll try to clear up some of the issues you brought up. 

      Yes, on “Roller Angel”…I did mean arms above your head (not straight up).

      With “Lat Presser” I was meaning to move to your right shoulder. You should be pressing on your left side and then moving to pressing on your right shoulder. Tilting your body where the shoulder you are not pressing on is not feeling much pressure. Again, do what you’re comfortable with.

      Again, I’m so happy this helped you and thank you for helping me make this post better!

      – Ryan

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