The popularity of the foam roller has been growing so steadily in the world of fitness that it is often used as a cure-all for many different conditions. It is a great tool for increasing mobility of the spine and soft tissue if used correctly. If it’s not used the right way, you could be doing more harm than good.

If you are rolling your lumbar spine (lower back), stop! Although the thoracic spine (middle back) is supported by the strong rib cage, the lumbar spine is not, which makes it more unstable. Forcing the lower back into more extension may cause more issues, increasing pain and sometimes causing stress fractures. But targeting the thoracic area and the region between your shoulder blades will improve mobility and overall posture.

You will block the thoracic spine with your shoulder blades if you clasp your hands behind your head, so expose the spine by reaching out, crossing your wrists and rounding the shoulders. Relax your abs, drop your butt and sink into the foam roller. Gently roll the tight spot, rocking side to side. Slowly bring your arms back over your head to get a great stretch.

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