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Many of us have poor posture.
Poor posture caused by sitting at a desk hunched over a computer for 9 hours a day.
And this poor posture can directly cause pain and even lead to injury when working out.
That is why we need to take steps to alleviate the pain and tightness caused by sitting hunched over all day.
That is why we need to start using Foam Rolling and Trigger Point Release Moves!
While foam rolling alone won’t complete reverse our bad posture, it is the best place to start. Because loosening up the tight muscles helps you increase your mobility further with dynamic stretching and also allows you to truly activate inactive muscle groups!
Below are 10 Foam Rolling Moves Everyone With A Desk Job Should Do:
1. Calves/Side Of Shins – Because most of us sit all day, or even wear fancy shoes like high heels that cause our foot to be in an unnatural position for hours at a time, our calves and even the sides of our lower leg can become tight. This tightness can lead to pain and injury even higher up our body. Plus it can limit our ability to squat low in our workouts (yes, often it is tight calves that limit your ability to get low in your squats!).
To roll out your calves, place one calf over the foam roller near your heel. (You can also place a ball on top of a block or some books and place your calf over that.
Cross the other foot on top of the leg on the foam roller or ball.
Rock right to left or side-to-side a couple of times and then roll the foam roller up higher on your calf toward you knee. Keep rocking side to side as you work your way up your calf. Stay longer on tight spots.
Don’t spend any time on areas that aren’t tight. If you find a super tight spot, make 10 circles with your foot and then tense and relax your calf (flexing and dropping your foot) 5 times before you move to the next spot. Repeat all the way up both calves.
To roll out the sides of your shins, take a ball or roller and place it on the ground with the side of your lower leg on top. Press down on your lower leg with your hand to apply more pressure so that the ball digs in. Move your leg so that you roll the ball down the length of the side of your lower leg.
Hold on any tight spots and even move your leg to make circles on the ball. You can also rock a bit forward (toward your shin) or backward (toward you calf) to hit different angles.
Work your way up to just below your knee and then down to above the anklebone.
2. Hamstrings – When you sit all day in a chair, your hamstrings are in flexion all day, which makes them short and tight. Tight hamstrings can mean low back pain and lead to injury when running.
To roll out your hamstrings, it is best to use a roller or ball up on an elevated surface. Rolling out on the ground doesn’t give you enough leverage. You want to sit on something that allows you to place all of your bodyweight down into the roller. I like using a table or a plyo box.
Place the ball or roller at the bottom of one hamstring just above your knee. Rock side-to-side on the roller. If you find a tight spot, you can then lift the leg up straight in front of you and relax it back down.
Because you are sitting on something, you may find you have to manual adjust the roller instead of letting it roll up higher on your leg. Move the roller up your hamstring and repeat, rocking side to side and lifting and lowering your leg.
Work your way all the way up to right below your butt.
Make sure to spend extra time on tight spots. You don’t need to waste times on areas that aren’t tight.
I highly recommend a small hard ball for this or a spikey roller as it helps you really dig in.
3. Hips – Our hips get super tight from sitting all day. And tight hips often mean we’ll suffer from low back pain and may even end up with knee problems. When our hips are locked up, our glutes aren’t active therefore other, smaller muscle groups must compensate to help us move. These compensations can lead to injuries up and down our body. If your hips are out of whack, you could have problems all the way up to your neck!
That is why you need to roll out your hips!
To roll out the front of your hips, it is best to use a ball as it will dig in more than the roller and target knots and trigger points better.
Place the ball on the ground, right at the top and outside of the front of your hip. Slowly roll it toward your groin.
Hold on any tight spots you find. Then work your way back out toward the outside of your leg.
Once you make it back out, lower the ball a little lower down your leg and repeat. Again hold on any tight spots.
4. Glutes/Piriformis – Our glutes can have trigger points from sitting all day, especially our piriformis. So in order to prevent low back, hip, knee, ankle and even foot pain caused by a tight piriformis, you need to roll out.
To roll out your glutes and your piriformis, use a ball. The harder the ball, the better you will be able to dig in.
Place the ball on the ground and sit on it with your hands behind you to help support you.
Roll the ball around, searching for any tight spots. Hold on any trigger points or knots you find.
When you find a tight spot, you can also lift and lower the leg up and down to dig into the spot more. After you do a few leg lifts, bring the knee in toward the chest then straighten it back out a few times.
Then move onto the next spot.
5. Low Back – The best way to roll out your back is using a peanut AKA two balls taped together. However, you can also use a single ball if that is all you have.
To roll out your low back using a peanut, place the peanut on the ground so that a ball will be on each side of your spine.
Lay on the ground with the peanut starting above your glutes and tuck your knees into your chest.
Touch your feet back down and crunch your lower body up again.
Then move the balls up higher, making your way all the way up your back.
Crunch your lower body in as you work up your low back. Hold longer on any tight spots.
As you reach your mid to upper back, start performing a crunch with your upper body instead of tucking your knees to your chest.
6. Abs – Because we sit rounded forward at the computer, our abs can become tight…and not a good “tight” either. Because our abs are tight we start to compensate and may not even engage our abs correctly during exercise, putting more strain on our low back!
To roll out your abs, take a larger foam ball, or smaller ball up on some books or a block, and place it on the ground.
Then lie on top of the ball with it just under your rib cage. Relax over the ball as much as you can and just breathe deeply as you hold.
Do that on both sides under your rib cage.
You can also then place it lower in your abs, beside your belly button and above your hip. Again relax over the ball and breathe deeply.
This second move, with the ball lower, will also help release your hip flexors!
7. Chest – Often our neck, shoulders and even our upper back hurt because they are doing work they shouldn’t be doing because our chest is tight!
If you want to lessen your pain, improve your posture (and heck even do more pull ups) then you need to loosen up your chest.
And if you want to do those fun and fancy overhead pressing moves at the gym, you need to make sure your chest is loose so that you don’t start compensating with smaller muscles that really can’t handle the load!
To roll out your chest, you can use a larger foam ball against the ground or a smaller ball against the wall (You can also use a smaller ball against the ground just make sure to elevate it especially if you have carpet!)
To do either move, you will place the ball right in the side of your chest by your shoulder joint (either against the wall or against the ground).
The reach your hand up overhead and back down toward your feet. You can even move it out to the side to dig out any tight spots.
Hold on any tight spots.
8. Lats – From sitting rounded forward all day, our lats can also become tight. And if our lats are tight, they probably aren’t being used as they should be.
If our lats are inactive, that means we are missing out on working one of the largest muscles in our body.
Which means we aren’t getting as strong as we should be or burning as many calories as we could be.
To roll out your lats, I’ve found a roller to work best.
Place the foam roller under one armpit. Rock forward (chest toward the ground) and then backward (chest away from the ground) and then move the roller down your side a bit toward you toes.
Repeat rocking forward and backward all the way to the end of your ribcage.
You may then want to roll a bit more onto your back to hit the bottom of your lats, still slightly leaning to one side.
Move to the other side and repeat.
9. Upper Traps – Many of us have upper back, shoulder and neck pain. Part of the reason for this is that our upper traps are overactive from hunching over a computer screen all day. Also, stress can contributed to that raised shoulder posture.
And tight traps can mean neck and shoulder pain as well as tension headaches!
To roll out your upper traps, it is best to use a ball against the ground or wall. If you also have a bar or ledge you can duck under and press your shoulder up into, that can work since it is hard to get the very top with the ball.
To use the ball against the wall or ground, place it right to one side of the base of your neck. Roll it toward your spine and then out toward your shoulder.
Hold on any tight spots.
You can also work your way down your shoulder blade and spine a bit toward the middle of your upper back.
10. Forearms – An often neglected area when it comes to foam rolling, but an important one to target since so many of us have wrist and elbow problems because our flexor muscles in our forearms are tight and overactive.
To roll out your forearm you can use almost any tool (ball or roller). Place the ball or roller down on a hard surface such as a table or desk. Place your forearm on top of the roller. You will want to hit both sides of your forearm.
Press your forearm down into the ball or roller with your other hand.
Hold on any tight spots.
Work your way from your wrist all the way up to your elbow.
You can roll up and down and even make small circles with the ball to dig more into any tight spots.
Feet – All too often our feet get sore and achy from wearing shoes that don’t properly support us. To alleviate foot pain, roll out the bottom of your foot with a tennis ball or even a golf ball. Just stand on top of the ball and roll it down the length of your foot.
Thoracic Spine – Because we sit rounded forward all day, many of us lack proper thoracic extension. To improve your posture, you can use a roller to work on your extension. To roll out your back, start with the roller at the middle of your back. Extend back over the foam roller, keeping your butt on the ground while you try to touch your head to the ground behind the roller. Then move the roller up higher and extend again, keeping the butt on the ground. Work all the way up your thoracic spine.
For more foam rolling moves and video demonstrations of each move, check out our Complete Foam Rolling Video Course!