Foam rollers have become the must-have fitness accessory as of late. Every gym and fitness center will have them, and you can order them online from places like Amazon. The benefit of a foam roller is that it lets you provide a self-massage at home. Rolling on these objects can increase blood flow and iron out muscle knots. They’re also really good at helping you stretch out your upper back and shoulders.
One of the most common ways to use a foam roller is on your lower back. Lots of people suffer from lower back pain these days, so a self-massage at home seems like an excellent idea. Well…you’d think a foam roller would be perfect to relieve your pain, right? Wrong. You should stop foam rolling your lower back right now – and this is why:
Foam rollers can cause more lower back problems
The issue is that your lower back doesn’t have the same support as your upper back. Foam rolling the upper back is fine because you have the shoulder blades and rip cage as support for the spine. With the lower back, there’s nothing. This means you tend to force your lower back into too much extension.
Why is this bad? Well, it can cause a whole host of other lower back problems. You’re forcing the spine to bend too much in extension, which can lead to the joints stretching too much. It may even cause disc bulging – or worse.
You see, the reason most people have lower back pain is that the muscles in the lower back are very sore. We can write a whole other blog post on what causes this, and why stretching and strengthening other muscles can help. But, sometimes you just want to do something to ease the pain at the moment.
Well, a foam roller doesn’t do this. Because of how it’s shaped, you’re not actually rolling out the muscles at all, so it’s pointless.
What can I do instead of using a foam roller?
Thankfully, there are other things you can do to get some relief from a stiff lower back. Instead of a foam roller, you could use a massage ball or massage gun to get deep into the muscles. Both of these options mean you don’t put stress on the spine; you literally focus on the muscles and can iron out those trigger points.
Alternatively, you can apply things to your back to see if the pain eases. A lot of people are using things like KT tape to see relief. This is a type of kinesiotape that relieves pressure on the lower back muscles and promotes blood flow to the area. Once you learn how to put KT tape on lower back, it is easy to do whenever you feel stiff, and it can stay on throughout the day.
Finally, you could apply heat treatments and creams to the area to warm it up and reduce the sensations of pain.
See, foam rolling your lower back is not a good idea because it can cause spinal complications – and it just doesn’t solve any problems. You can still use your foam roller on other parts of your body but look for different ways of relieving lower back pain.