Upper Body Foam Rolling Movements

Upper body foam rolling kid.jpg

I wanted to create a simple follow along foam rolling video for my clients to use on their own and figured I might as well share it with everyone. Follow along and you'll be done in less than 4 minutes. Your warm up can still be quick and effective.

More details of each movement after the video. I've also now added individual videos for different movements.

Thoracic Extension

- Set up by sitting on the floor with the knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Place the foam roller in the middle back just above the naval or at the lower rib cage and lean back against the roller. Support the head and neck by placing the hands behind the head and bringing the elbows forward and together. Arch back slowly over the roller lifting the rib cage and hold the extended position for a moment. After a given number of repetitions lift the butt off the floor, move the hips toward the feet a small distance, and place the butt back down. Slowly extend again. Repeat this process as if you are moving up the spine one vertebrae at a time until the roller is directly behind the shoulders. You can repeat the process moving down the spine stopping at the starting point if needed.

Back Roll

- Lie back over the foam roller with the foam roller with the feet flat on the ground lifting the hips off the floor. Maintain some tension in your glutes and abdominals to support the torso, while using the legs to roll yourself up and down along the foam roller. Pitch to one side or the other to apply more direct pressure to areas of the upper back. Work with varying arm positions like hugging yourself or lifting the arms overhead to improve positioning in the upper body while rolling.


- Lie on top of the foam roller so that it runs even with your spine and supports the head and neck. Keep some tension in the glutes to keep your lumbar spine from hyperextending. Give yourself a hug and rock side to side between the shoulder blades.

Snow Angels (Not shown in video)

- While lying on the foam roller as described above, rotate the arms back so the palms are up the forearms are perpendicular to your body. Slide the arms up as high as possible and down pinching the elbows together, while allowing gravity to gently pull the arms back to the floor. Additionally, you can squeeze the shoulders back and together while moving the arms.

Lats, Rear Deltoids, and Triceps

- Place the foam roller perpendicular to the back of the armpit while lying on your side with your arm extended overhead. Use the top leg to guide and move yourself by placing the foot flat on the floor just in front of the knee of the lower leg. From this position move yourself up and down along the roller from the bottom and back of the armpit, across the back of the shoulder and onto the triceps.

Pectoralis and Anterior Deltoid

- Lie face down with the foam roller positioned diagonally to one side of the chest, and the same arm extended out overhead like half of a Y. Curl the toes under and plant the other hand to lift the body and hips off the ground. Use the planted hand and arm to guide your body along the roller from the lower portion of the chest (above the breast for women), across the front of the armpit and deltoid.

For some added fun, discomfort, and to dig a little deeper try this stuff with a tennis ball, lacrosse ball, or medicine ball. Maybe that should be another post.