Roll Out Back Pain

Target these lower-body spots, not your spine.

If you’ve altered your workouts to sidestep back pain, a foam roller may help: One study found that self-myofascial release reduced low back pain by more than 62 percent.

But relief probably won’t come from applying pressure to the area that’s aching, according to Andrew Borsellino, MS, a strength and conditioning coach based in East Hanover, New Jersey. Instead, use the two moves below to roll out the muscles that are often the hidden reasons behind low back pain. Do them daily, if possible.  
 

Seated Foam Roll with Legs Crossed
Targets:
 Glutes and piriformis
The reason: “Most back problems usually stem from somewhere deeper in your back,” Borsellino says. He recommends foam rolling the glutes and piriformis muscles, which can cause soreness in the lower back when they’re tight or fatigued. 
How to do it: With your feet flat on the floor, slightly wider than shoulder-width, center a foam roller beneath your glutes. Lift your right leg and rest your right ankle on your left knee. Roll back and forth from the center of your right glute to the bottom of your spine for 30 to 60 seconds; switch legs and repeat. 


Foam Roll with Single-Leg Extension
Targets:
Hamstrings
The reason: The hamstrings are an often overlooked cause of lower back pain, says Rob Ziegelbaum, RPT, a physical therapist based in Port Washington, New York. They’re attached to the hip bone, which is connected to the lower back muscles. “When the hamstrings get tight, they tilt the hip bones down, placing additional stress on the lower back muscles,” he explains.
How to do it: Lower yourself onto the floor, extending your right leg out in front of you, and bend your left knee so that your lower leg is behind you. Place the end of a foam roller beneath your upper right hamstring, just below the glute, and place your hands on the foam roller on either side of your leg. Roll your upper hamstring just enough so that your foot flexes down, and roll it back again, for 30 to 60 seconds; switch sides and repeat.