If you’re like millions of Americans who work at a desk and spend the majority of your day in front of a computer, then you’re no stranger to neck and shoulder pain. And when you combine these bad posture habits with other ones, like text neck (everyone is guilty of looking down at their phones), it’s like a bad chain reaction that causes even more alignment issues and discomfort.
But the good news is that you probably already have a foam roller to help your muscles recover from hard runs and workouts—and spending just five minutes with it can make a huge difference in your posture, too, helping to release those trigger points, says Lauren Roxburgh, a certified Pilates instructor and author of Taller, Slimmer, Younger: 21 Days to a Foam Roller Physique.
“Most of us have tension in our upper back, neck and shoulders due to constant hunching over a computer at work, looking at our phones, and from sitting and driving. This constant slumping can create stiffness and tightness over time, not to mention postural imbalances. When you have all of that tension present, it compresses your body, especially your spine and shoulders,” Roxburgh explains.
That’s where a foam roller comes in. “It’s like a stand-in masseuse and private Pilates instructor. You can use the roller as a tool to release tension in the upper back, roll out the kinks, and help get your shoulders aligned," Roxburgh says.
How to do a posture exercise with a foam roller
Foam rolling has been shown to help increase joint mobility and range of motion, as well as aid in performance and recovery according to a 2015 study in the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy. “This [foam roller] move helps release tension and relieve pain by realigning and massaging the shoulder blades, aligning the neck, and opening up the upper body,” Roxburgh says.
- Lie on your back on a yoga mat with your feet flat on the floor and hips-distance apart. Place the foam roller under your upper middle back—right around the the bra line. Place your hands behind your head to support your neck and head.
- Lift your hips into a bridge position, and use your legs and core to stabilize you. Driving through your heels, inhale as you roll along your spine, stopping at the top of the shoulder blades.
- Exhale as you roll down your back, stopping at the bottom of your rib cage. Avoid rolling the low-back area. Repeat eight to 10 times.