Foam Rollers: Releasing the Back, IT Band and Piriformis
Help for Large Muscle Groups
Using a foam roller can have many benefits for large muscle groups, like the piriformis, upper back, and the IT band. Keeping these muscles healthy by using a foam roller can be helpful in reducing pain and preventing injuries.
Rolling Out the Piriformis
The piriformis muscle is located in the gluteal area. It can become tight or inflamed from overuse during activities like running. However, it can also tighten due to underuse – people who sit at a desk or lead sedentary lifestyles can also suffer from piriformis pain.
When it becomes tight or inflamed, it can cause irritation to the sciatic nerve. This muscle can be kept healthy by using a foam roller, which increases flexibility and blood flow. To use your foam roller on your piriformis, lay on one side and place the roller under your hip, beneath your piriformis. Then roll back and forth slowly to release tension. Repeat for the other side.
Help for Upper Back Pain
Many people experience upper back pain resulting from stress, sitting or driving for long periods of time. Using a foam roller to ease upper back tension can be very effective. It’s generally advised that you not use a foam roller on your lower back – putting too much stress on lower back muscles can cause more pain, not less. For rolling out the upper back muscles, lie on the floor and place the foam roller under your upper back. Slowly roll up and down your back, being careful not to roll past the end of your rib cage.
Using a Foam Roller on Your IT Band
The iliotibial band, or IT band, is a band of tissue that runs down the outside of thigh. It can become tight, and cause pain further down the leg. If you use your foam roller directly on your IT band, however, you could cause more pain by further irritating the tissue. The best approach is to focus on the muscles that attach to the IT band. Use the roller on the gluteal muscles first, or the tensor fasciae latae which runs along the outer edge of your hip.
With regular practice, these simple practices can be effective in reducing pain and tension in the larger muscle groups, as well as being a great complement to regular massage therapy.