#1 Foam Rolling Exercise for Middle Back Pain Relief

#1 Foam Rolling Exercise For Middle Back Pain Relief

Middle back pain is a common complaint for people of all ages. It can cause discomfort and stiffness, and sometimes can create an abnormal curvature in the lower back. Aside from being painful, it can also be quite debilitating. The good news is that there are many ways to alleviate the symptoms of middle back pain without having to rely on prescription medications or invasive treatments. One way is through exercise and using a foam roller.

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What is Foam Rolling?

A foam roller is a lightweight, cylinder shaped tube that is made from compressed foam. They can come in many sizes, colours, and can have different ranges of density and textures. Foam rolling is a self-myofascial release (SMR) technique that can be used to enhance your workouts or added as a warmup or cool down to decrease post-workout muscle soreness, aid in recovery, and increase joint mobility. Foam rollers are also considered an effective tool to ease sore muscles and inflammation that come along with chronic pain conditions such as back pain, osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia. Adding pressure on tight muscles and fascia can eliminate tension buildup. It is also considered a relaxing way to unwind from work or daily life activities.

Foam rolling is generally considered safe, however if you have a serious injury or muscle tear, check with your doctor or physical therapist first. It’s also best to avoid rolling over small joints such as your knees and ankles to avoid hyperextension.

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About the Middle Back (Thoracic Spine)

The middle of your back, or the thoracic spine, is the longest region of the spine that runs from the base of your neck down to your abdomen. It consists of 12 vertebrae, and is the only region of the spine that is attached to the rib cage, making it very complex. This sturdy region of the spine helps to support the neck and rib cage while protecting the spinal cord and vital organs. The thoracic spine has the least range of motion, but offers the most stability.

Causes of Middle Back Pain

There are many causes of back pain, ranging from injuries to poor posture. These possible causes include:

  • Myofascial Pain

This kind of pain is the most common and can be caused by muscle irritation, tension and imbalances. Stress, poor posture and strain to the upper back, shoulder muscle spasms, and some repetitive movements usually contribute to this kind of pain.

  • Poor Posture

Poor posture and excess slouching can contribute to tired and overworked muscles and ligaments, creating weakness in some areas and too much tension in others. Over time this can put excess pressure on disks and change the curvature of the spine, causing pain and dysfunction.

  • Joint Dysfunction

Dysfunctional joints such as osteoarthritis/ facet joint degeneration or degenerative disk disease can play a role in middle back pain. Cartilage tears or rib misalignment can also contribute to thoracis spine dysfunction and pain.

  • Herniated Disk

Pressure on nerves can result in pain, tingling, or numbness in areas where the affected nerve travels. Often these symptoms occur when a herniated disk pushes against a nerve. The term, ‘herniated disk’, is commonly used to describe this condition and has two main types: slipped discs and ruptured discs.

  • Aging

The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) found that back pain is most likely to occur in those aged 30-50. This happens due to the natural aging process and all its negative effects, such as thinning bones, reduction in muscle mass, and fluid between joints in the spine.

  • Fractures

Fractures are very serious injuries that often require immediate treatment. Individuals can experience severe pain, urinary incontinence and tingling or numbness in the affected area. Treatment options may include wearing a brace, going to physical therapy, and possibly surgery, depending on the severity of your fracture/injury.

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Symptoms of Middle Back Pain

  • Muscle aches
  • Dull pain
  • A burning sensation
  • Sharp pain
  • Muscle tightness or stiffness

Alleviating Middle Back Pain Using the Foam Roller

Start in a four-point position with your knees under your hips and your hands beneath your shoulders. Place your foam roller under you lengthwise. Make sure your spine is neutral with your head in line with your spine and shift your hips back slightly. Plant your left hand on the opposite side of the foam roller and place your right hand on top of the foam roller with your palm facing upward. Roll your right arm under your upper body in a “thread the needle” movement.

Roll back to the starting position and repeat the movement.

Start with 3-5 repetitions on each side, working your way up to 10 repetitions on each side.

Thread the Needle with Foam Roller

Thread the needle is an excellent dynamic stretch and mobility exercise. If you have midback tightness, this exercise can be done easily from home or at the end of your workout.

Simple changes, such as working on your posture and ensuring your spine stays strong and mobile are recommended to keep your thoracic spine as healthy and pain free as possible.

If you want to learn how to eliminate your back discomfort permanently, then check out the Low Back Pain Solved program here.

Low Back Pain Solved