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Foam Roller Shoulder Exercises

by
author image Ashley Schwader
Ashley Schwader is a certified personal trainer through ACE and a certified Pilates and group instructor through AFAA. Her background includes personal training, nutrition, weight management, corporate wellness, and health promotion. She earned a Bachelor of Science in health and exercise science, from Colorado State University.
Foam Roller Shoulder Exercises
You can do shoulder exercises yourself using a foam roller. Photo Credit Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Getty Images

Overview

You can undo all those knots in your shoulders without having to go to a masseuse or massage therapist by using a foam roller. Start with a soft foam roller; as releasing myofascial tension can hurt. If you do feel pain, the up side is that this self-massaging technique is working.

Upper Back Exercise

To improve extension in your thoracic spine, cross your arms over your chest with hands to the opposite shoulders. Ideally this will clear the shoulder blades across the thoracic wall. While contracting your abdominals, raise your hips until they are unsupported. Be sure to keep your head in a neutral position. Then roll the mid-back area on the foam.

Rotator Cuff Release

This foam roller exercise is designed to improve rotator cuff flexibility and relieve tightness. Start by placing the foam roller under your shoulder blade along where the rotator cuff lies. Then using your legs, slowly move your body forward and backward, allowing the roller to massage the shoulder blade region and back of the shoulder. Concentrate on breathing normally and keeping your muscles relaxed.

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Thoracic Extension

To open up the thoracic area -- from neck to diaphragm -- place the foam roller lengthwise along the floor or an exercise mat. Lie down on the roller so your head is supported by one end of the roller and the other end of the roller is under your tailbone. Your feet can be flat on the floor, with your knees bent, or stretched out if front of you. Hold for 15-90 seconds. This exercise can be easily be made to produce a deeper thoracic-area opening effect by placing the roller under your upper back facing in a vertical position. Begin with your arms across your chest, breathing normally, keeping your back and neck relaxed and hanging off the roller. If you are unable to do this comfortably, place a pillow under your neck. Move the roller up or down a few centimeters and repeat along the length of your upper back to feel the release in your shoulders.

Latissimus Dorsi and Inner Shoulder

Take this stretch slowly to avoid pain. Begin by positioning yourself on your side. You will be lying with one arm outstretched and the foam roller placed in the axillary area, or under the armpit. Point your thumb up to stretch the latissumus dorsi muscle, which is under the shoulder joint. There is minimal movement during this technique, so hold the position and concentrate on breathing.

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References

Demand Media