Self Myofascial Release for the Lumbar Spine

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So you have some tightness in your lower back? Many suffer from low back pain in America due to the increasingly sedentary lifestyles, more working hours, more driving around for various errands, etc…Some times you may simply feel a lot of tightness in the low back area. Self myofascial release may help.

Doctors, physical therapists, and personal trainers will generally instruct people to perform self myofascial release to address tight muscle adhesions or knots. The idea is to apply pressure to the affected area and the pressure will in turn allow your muscle to “release” and usually become a bit more relaxed. Whether its your calves, upper back, quads, glutes, etc…Foam roller, theracane, manual pressure, tennis balls, are the most widely used tools when performing self myofascial release.

The low back, however can be a tender spot…you damage that area and a lot of bad things can happen so I’ve never foam rolled my low back or had any clients foam roll the area.

NASM as a whole and the CEO/founder of the company Dr. Mike Clark both released statements concerning self myofascial release/foam rolling of the low back. To sum up they recommend applying manual pressure to the affected area or using something small in diameter like a tennis ball to target your sweet spot. I tend to use a foam roller for my legs, calves, mid/upper back and a theracane for my shoulder/trap area.

You can read the two answers below. “Is It Safe To Foam Roll The Lumber Spine?

It is not recommended to foam roll the lumbar spine because the diameter of the foam roller makes it difficult for most individuals to control the position of their lower back. This can create excessive pressure on the vertebrae and the discs that separate them. With that said, the muscles in the lower back region can benefit greatly from myofascial release (which is the self-massage technique often referred to as foam rolling). Instead of the foam roller, you can use a smaller diameter tool such as a tennis ball to apply pressure to any areas with increased tension or discomfort.” – Dr. Mike Clark

“No, the lumbar spine is an area that should be avoided when foam rolling. Foam rolling should be applied on areas with fairly dense muscle tissue such as the quadriceps, hamstrings, or inner thighs. Foam rolling on the lumbar spine can cause potential injury to the discs of the low back. Other devices (such as hand-held rollers) are more suitable because the amount of pressure applied is much less and won’t harm the discs in your low back.” – National Academy of Sports Medicine


About the Author:

Taylor Carpenter is a nationally Certified Personal Trainer, Corrective Exercise Specialist, and Fitness Nutrition Specialist through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Taylor was featured as a fitness expert in the first publication of NASM's "The Fitness Edge".
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