If there’s one area that foam rolling works best for, it’s the upper back, also known as the thoracic spine (Tx). We spend a lot of time ‘hunched’ over at computers, more so than ever over the last 2 years, but also when preparing food or driving long distances. Our upper backs are stressed when held in these positions for long periods of time and foam rolling can be a great way to relieve this.

Foam Roller Rules

  • Move foam roller slowly over the desired muscle

  • When you find a tender spot, work the area a bit longer

  • Try to move with your breath, the rhythm is relaxing

  • Don’t foam roll-over injuries or broken skin

  • If the pain is severe stop; foam rolling can hurt a little but should not hurt a lot

How to Foam Roll the Upper Back

  1. Begin by laying on your back with the foam roller positioned underneath your upper back. Your knees should be bent with your feet flat on the floor and your arms can either be down by your sides or across your chest.

  2. Brace your core and lift yourself up into a shallow bridge position.

  3. Slowly start to roll up and down between your lower neck and mid-back, stopping at tight areas along the way.

  4. Hold the pressure when a trigger point is felt.

Did you know?

Foam rolling the upper back has so many benefits, it improves circulation by promoting blood flow which in turn, aids healing, recovery, relaxation and pain relief. Using a foam roller works as a great way to gently mobilise the upper spine. Immobile joints occur through overuse and poor posture and the motion of foam rolling can help increase the movement around those spinal joints. The amount of range of movement we have within the upper back can improve as tight muscles become more flexible. The shape of a foam roller can provide an element of instability meaning the core has to work hard to maintain balance and thus strengthening those capacities.

When do I know that my Upper Back needs foam rolling?

If pain is felt in the upper back, foam rolling this area can reduce this. If you train a lot in the gym utilising overhead movements repeatedly, attention to the upper back is vital. Our upper back, as well as our shoulders, must work really hard when weight is overhead. Assisting the recovery from this, with foam rolling can be extremely advantageous.

So next time your upper back begins to feel sore and tight why not complete this foam rolling routine to help ease your symptoms!

Take care and have a lovely weekend,


BSc Hons Sports Therapy MSST

MSc Strength and Conditioning










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