A foam roller is a versatile and affordable piece of equipment that everyone should have in their home. You can use the foam roller for working out, self-myofascial release, or as a prop to stretch your body. I especially like using foam rolling stretches to help open up my tight hips and back. A stiff back and hip area are common from both sitting too much and working out a lot. When ignored, tightness in those areas increase your risk of injury, prevent mobility, and negatively affect your posture. Follow these 5 foam roller stretches to relieve pain from tight hips and back.
1. Hip Flexor Stretch– Lie down on your back and bend your knees so your feet are flat on the floor. Lift your hips up and place the foam roller horizontally underneath your tailbone. Hug one knee into your chest and extend the other leg straight out. Reach the straight leg down towards the ground to lengthen the front of that hip. Take the knee that’s pulled in and try turning it out slightly to get a different angle in the hip flexor of the straight leg. Hold for 1-2 minutes before switching sides.
2. Figure 4 Stretch– Staying in the same position as the hip flexor stretch, you can go right into this figure 4 stretch that will target the outer hip area. With the hips lifted, bring your legs up to a tabletop position. Cross one ankle over the other thigh. Keep your arm down on the ground for support. You can also hold onto the foam roller to stabilize it as you move. Slowly rotate the legs in the figure 4 shape to the right and then to the left. Do this 5 times trying to go deeper each time without letting your shoulders leave the ground. Repeat on the other leg.
3. Arm Circles– Open up the front of your chest and shoulders to release the tension in your upper back. Lie down on the foam roller with it lined up against your spine. Your head should be supported. Bend your legs keeping your feet flat on the ground and hip distance apart for support. You may use small hand weights for a deeper stretch. Start with your arms by your sides, palms down. Slowly raise the arms up and over your head so that the palms are now facing up. Allow gravity to stretch the front of your shoulders here. Circle the arms around with the palms facing up until you get to your start position. Turn the palms down to repeat. Do 5 circles in each direction.
4. Thoracic Spine Extension– Sit down on the floor with your legs bent. Lower your upper body down onto the foam roller so that it’s placed horizontally across your upper back. Hold your head in your hands like you are doing a sit up so that your neck doesn’t drop. Once in position, allow your head to fall back towards the ground to create an arch in your upper back over the foam roller. Slowly curl back up and repeat 5-7 times.
5. Tuck and Roll– Place the foam roller down vertically next to you and get on all fours. Your knees should be right under your hips and your hands right under your shoulders. Take the arm farthest from the foam roller and reach it underneath you to place the top of your hand on the roller. Slide that arm out along the roller as you twist your torso and pull your shoulder blades apart. Keep your hips high in this position making sure not to sit back or lean forward too much. Hold for a few seconds before rolling back up and repeating. Do 3 on each side.
Do these stretches every day to increase blood flow, reduce muscle pain from tight hips and back, and increase flexibility. Your body will thank you!
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Video: Crystal Chin