Since most Americans spend their time being in a sedentary state, according to studies, it was pinpointed as one of the main cause of back pain. A survey conducted showed that Americans spend an average of 13 hours sitting. One reason for this is that many working class Americans often work an office job where they spend most of their time sitting managing an overload of paperwork or working on the computer.  When they get home, they won’t have a lot of time for physical activity and therefore they are not able to relieve the stiffness and tension on their back muscles, therefore, causing their back pain. Back pain can take on a wide variety of characteristics. The pain may be constant, intermittent, or only occur with certain positions or activities. It may remain in one spot or spread to other areas. It may be a dull ache, or a sharp or piercing or burning sensation. Its symptoms can range in intensity from mild to severe. It also occurs in various parts of the back, may it be in the upper, middle and lower back, and extends to other parts of the body. This has been a dilemma especially among the old ones as they take the toll of their prolonged sitting, or any triggering activity back in their younger days. Today, there’s still no direct cure for back pain other than exercises, therapies and pain relievers. On worst cases of back pain, a surgery is sometimes required, though it rarely happens. But most of the time, many rely on easy-to-do exercises and home remedies to ease their back pain. This is also true to those who are too busy with their personal errands and activities, that they do not have time to hit the gym and train with an instructor. While some find comfort in exercising from their homes rather than wearing tight outfits to fit in the gym crowd. With that, capitalists took advantage of this need thus, various affordable small equipment were introduced in the market to help the sufferers of back pain such as the foam roller. The foam roller is specially made to be used mainly for back exercises. It’s key benefit is to stretch out and relax tight muscles, thus relieves pain or tension on your back. Here are 5 roller exercises you can do for back pain whether you are at home or at the gym. However, make sure that you do a warm-up first to condition your bones and muscles as to avoid injuries. If performing these exercises causes pain, it is wise to ask for a professional’s help to avoid further problems.    

1. On Neck and Upper Back

    The foam roller is great for stress-related soreness that accumulated in the neck and upper back. However, the neck and lower back are more delicate than you think and a foam roller may put too much pressure on it. Exercise caution is needed when using the foam roller on your neck and lower back, and it might be necessary to ask help from your doctors, such as your chiropractor, physical therapist, or athletic trainer.  

How to do it?

  Step 1. Place the foam roller at the top of your shoulders and then lay your head on top of it. Allow your head to gently drift towards the floor until you feel a stretch. Let your head continue to the floor as long as you are comfortable. Hold for 10 seconds. Step 2. Push your legs gently towards your head to get a gentle massage. You should feel the roller move over your neck with some pressure. Step 3. Lift your head up gently when you’re finished. Step 4. Consider using a foam roller cut in half or a massage ball or pillow instead of a full foam roller to protect your neck.    

2.On Shoulder Blades

    Due to carrying heavy things and sitting with a slouch back for hours, this may cause tension build up in the upper back muscles thus causing pain that spreads to your neck, upper back, shoulders, and even to your arms. One of the best ways to relieve the pain is to simply roll over them. Doing this applies a broad pressure across your back area to relieve tension and at the same time, helps stretch out the upper back and the neck muscles.  

How to do it?

  Step 1. Sit on the floor and set your foam roller about a foot behind your bum. Lie back with your feet on the floor. Your shoulder blades should touch the roller. Raise your hips and shift your weight to the top of the roller. Then use your feet to move your roller between the middle of your back and your neck. Step 2. Place your hands on your chest to target internal muscles in your upper back. Step 3. Make 20 passes up and down your upper back and neck area.    

3.Thoracic extensions

    As mentioned earlier, many people spend most of their time sitting, without observing proper posture e.g. with their head bent forward. This contracts the upper back and neck muscles and may cause pain and injury. Doing thoracic extensions or arch backs using a foam roller can stretch out your middle and upper back muscles as well as those in your neck.  

How to do it?

  Step 1. Sit on the floor and set your foam roller about a foot behind you. Lie back with your feet hip-width apart on the floor. Your middle back should touch the roller. Step 2. Cross your arms and hand over your chest and extend back over the roller. Try and touch your head to the ground. Hold for 30 seconds and returning to starting position. Step 3. Repeat this progression up your back until you stretch the muscles in your shoulders and neck.    

4.On Lower Back

    This is a stretching type of exercise. This easy exercise is done by lying on the roller as you pull one leg towards your knee. Doing this can relieve pain and tension while stretching your lower back muscles.  

How to do it?

  Step 1. Sit on the floor and place roller on your lower back just above your hips. Lean back and hug your knee. Step 2. Pull your knee back towards your chest while using your other foot to roll up to just underneath your chest. Repeat slowly 10-12 times and then switch to the other side.    

5.Cool cool down with Cat-Cow stretches

    Do this as a cool down exercise. Although the earlier exercises are not that intense, you will need to cool down to avoid muscle soreness, as what is always done at the end of every proper exercise routines. Try a series of 10 cat-cows to stretch out your entire back.  

How to do it?

  Step 1. Set the foam roller parallel to your body. Place your hands on the top of it about shoulder width apart. Keeping your hands firmly on the roller, inhale as you slowly arch your upper back towards the ceiling while looking down towards your hips. Step 2. Reverse the motion as you exhale. Slowly lift your head and hips towards the ceiling. Step 3. Avoid forcing your back and neck past your range of motion, which may cause over-straining.

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