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Hi. This is Dr. Emily Parke. And in today’s Functional Health Minute, I’m going to teach you some easy things you can do with a foam roller to help relieve upper back pain, which is very common, especially for those of us that do a lot of computer work, and/or might be hunched over during the day. You end the day with this kind of upper back tension and for most people, it’s quite easy to give yourself some relief.

So this is my favorite foam roller, it’s called The Grid and it’s kind of like a PVC pipe that has some foam over it. There’s many different types and brands of foam rollers out there, you can choose whatever you like. This happens to be my favorite one. And I do like to do it on a harder surface, I’m on a hardwood floor right here, because you want to like take up as much tension from the back as you can. Because when you’re doing your foam rolling process, if there’s any adjustments that need to happen while you’re doing it, it makes it a lot easier if you’re not on a squishy surface.

So you’re going to put the foam roller kind of behind your low back a little bit, and you’re going to just lean back. So that’s step one. If you have long hair, you’re going to want to kind of get it up and out of the way. And if you have a hood, same thing, you want to get it up and out of the way because as you roll, it’ll take it right under the foam roller. I have lost some hair that way. So just kind of giving you the expert tip here.

So next we’re going to want to open up your elbows and you’re going to want to look up toward the ceiling. You’ve got a little bit of stretch in your chest muscles. And then you’ve got your feet kind of like shoulder width apart down here and you’re going to lift your hips up now. So you’re off the ground and you’re kind of looking up. And the closer I get towards my upper back, the more I’m going to raise my hips and my knees and I’m going to kind of almost point my head down. See how I’m kind of pointing my head down this way and you go really slowly. And if you’ve got any upper back tension that needs to be released, you can hear some cracks. And as I get closer towards the lumbar spine, you might notice I’m sitting up a little bit, and I’m back to the starting position.

So you’re sitting in this position with the roller a little bit on your low back and a little bit on the lower part of your upper back. And you’re going to arms open, look up, raise your hips a little, and as you roll down, I’m going to, like I said, point my head down and you get towards the upper back toward the neck. And then as you kind of go more south towards your low back, you’re going to kind of even out and then you’ll start to sit up. So that is, I find a really great way to kind of relieve a little bit of low back tension at the end of the day.

Now, the second thing that I do, as soon as I get up from this, I actually stretch out my chest muscle. So I’ll stand in a doorway and I’ll put my arm on the doorway and I’ll stretch my chest muscles and a couple of different positions. This whole thing takes about literally 30 seconds to a minute, if you do it right, and it can be quite relieving. So if you’re struggling with upper back pain at the end of the day, that doesn’t seem to go away you might give this easy foam rolling technique a try. This is Dr. Emily Parke with your next Functional Health Minute.

Dr. Emily Parke

Dr. Emily Parke

Dr. Emily Parke, D.O., is a certified functional medicine doctor, board-certified in anesthesiology & pediatric anesthesiology, and trained in medical acupuncture. She’s an experienced speaker in the medical and functional medicine community, and presently gives talks on a wide array of subjects.