The two best foam rolling moves I do every day to make my back feel good

The two best foam rolling moves! And these two moves are not just for workouts, they are for any time in your life.

Are you incorporating foam rolling into your life? While foam rolling may seem like just another thing to do each day, it’s incredibly beneficial for your body, and it’s an easy and accessible form of self-care and recovery too.

And while foam rolling is often used before and after workouts to warm up or cool down, you can foam roll at any time of day for a little recovery, to improve your range of motion and to increase circulation too. The moves I’m going to share with you today are my absolute favorite, and they will make your back feel so good — no matter when you do them.

Before we get to the moves, let’s do a little more background on foam rolling …

What is foam rolling?

Foam rolling is sort’ve like giving yourself a massage with a tool. Foam rollers are typically made of foam (thus the name), and they are cylinder objects that you mostly use on the floor — usually by putting your body on top of the roller and holding or slowly rolling.

The official name for foam rolling is “Self-Myofascial Release.” In the fitness world, it’s called “SMR” for short. And that name comes from what you’re doing.

Your muscles are surrounded by a tissue called fascia, and foam rolling is the practice of using a device to loosen up the knots and kinks in that fascia. Rather than having someone massage your body, you do it yourself with the roller. Foam rolling can sometimes be intense, but usually, it feels great. It depends largely on the type of foam roller you use, and I have a favorite I’ll share below.

And now for the two best foam rolling moves for the back …

The two best foam rolling moves I do every day to make my back feel good

The two best foam rolling moves I do every day to make my back feel good by A Lady Goes West

As a group fitness instructor who teaches several classes a week, as well as plays tennis and does other workouts — I move a lot. I often get tight. And I also get sore. I find that when I’m tight and sore or tired from a lot of exercise and carrying a heavy backpack around, my posture tends to suffer and my upper body stiffens up. I’m not a fan of this feeling. That’s why I started doing these two moves daily, for a total of five minutes, and I’ve seen a big improvement.

I hold the first move for about three or four minutes. Then I hold the second move for about a minute or so. And after those five minutes are done, I have sweet relief, my upper body feels amazing, my posture improves, and I even feel like I breathe better. It’s incredible. And now I look forward to those five minutes each day.

If you have a foam roller and are interested, here’s how I do these two moves …

*Disclaimer: While I’m a certified personal trainer, I’m not your personal trainer, so please proceed with caution. I always recommend getting the help of a fitness professional when you try new things, such as foam rolling.

And you can see a video of both these moves here.

Now for move number one …

Spine along the foam roller for back and shoulder relief

This one is for your back and posture, and it’s amazing for people who sit at a desk all day. And you’ll need a full-length foam roller for it.

Foam rolling spine by A Lady Goes West

  • Put the foam roller on the ground.
  • Gently lie back vertically along the foam roller with your tailbone, head and neck supported on the roller.
  • Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor at about 90-degree angles.
  • Brace your core.
  • Allow your arms and hands to fall to the floor on each side of the foam roller.
  • Hold this pose for a while, and when you’re ready, you can begin to take the arms straight up into the air and push them down toward your legs, then up and behind your head in a continuous motion. I also take my arms out to the sides in a snow-angel pattern in this position.
  • Try to make sure the foam roller is right along your spine for support with your eyes on the ceiling to protect your neck.
  • Hold this pose for anywhere from one minute to five minutes.
  • Safely roll off to the side and feel the instant relief in your back and shoulders.

Ashley foam rolling spine by A Lady Goes West

Now for move number two …

Spine across the foam roller for back relief and chest opening

This one helps to open up the chest, pull your shoulders back and give you relief in the upper back. I love to do this one before workouts, but I’ve also been doing it at night. It can be done on a half-length or full-length foam roller. 

Ashley foam rolling back by A Lady Goes West

  • Put the foam roller on the ground.
  • Gently lie back with the foam roller horizontally under your upper back with your hips and butt on the floor.
  • Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor at about 90-degree angles.
  • Tuck your chin toward your chest and bend your elbows with your fingertips to your temples or behind your head.
  • Begin to lift your hips slightly off the floor and slowly roll back and forth along your upper back, being careful to keep the foam roller away from your neck and lower back. Roll this area for about a minute.
  • Then, lower your hips back to the floor, let your chin move away from your chest and let your head and neck fall back slightly past the foam roller, where you will hold.
  • Hold this pose for about a minute, breathing deeply.
  • Safely roll yourself up, and feel the instant relief in your back, chest and shoulders.

Ashley foam rolling upper back by A Lady Goes West

Those are the two best foam rolling moves in my book!

I’ve been trying to do them every single night, and it’s a great wind down. But these would also be beneficial in the morning or before a workout.

Of course, there are plenty of other areas of the body to use the foam roller on too. But if you want to give yourself, especially your back, some tender-loving care, I’d start with these.

The best foam rollers

You can find foam rollers anywhere these days. And if you’re just getting started, a full-length plain black foam roller (like this basic one from Amazon) will do. But if you’ve been doing self-myofascial relief for a while (like I have), you’ll need something a little more intense with a harder exterior and texture.

Best foam rolling moves by A Lady Goes West

(In these pictures, I’m wearing these leggings in a small, this top in a 6 and these socks.)

I have been using this full-length 31-inch RumbleRoller for about 10 years, and it’s not for the faint of heart, due to the knots/texture, but it works so great. I highly recommend it. It’s an investment, but mine has been around for 10 years, and it’s still kicking. It’s lived with me in two states, two apartments, a townhouse and two houses, so we’ve got a long-standing relationship.

Another great one (which I don’t personally own, but I do use at my gym), is this full-length 26-inch TriggerPoint GRID foam roller. And it’s a little bit better for beginners or the average person. However, it’s not quite as long as the RumbleRoller, so it wouldn’t be as good for the first move I shared.

Once you buy yourself a foam roller and start incorporating this version of self-massage into your life, you’ll wish you had done it sooner. I hope you enjoy it!

Please pass this post along to a friend who needs some back and shoulder relief, and let me know if you try these. Have a fabulous day!

Other posts you may like

Questions of the day for you

Do you own a foam roller? And if so, do you use it?

What’s your favorite form of recovery?


  1. I did both of these moves this morning as part of my warm up. Lying on the foam roller vertically feels so good to open my chest and shoulders.

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