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The Easiest Way To Foam Roll Your Lower Back To Relieve Pain

Step By Step Lower Back Foam Roll Tutorial

By: Zack Mathews, NASM - CPT, CES, & PES, PN-L1

foam roll lower back

Back pain is something no one wants to experience but when it does flare up you want to know how to foam roll your lower back and how to do specific stretches that will help ease the discomfort.

In this article I will teach you how to foam roll your lower back, how long you should foam roll your lower back, provide additional stretches and areas to foam roll to help with your pain, and answer frequently asked questions.

The Best Way To Foam Roll Your Lower Back

To foam roll your lower back we are going to target a specific muscle called the quadratus lumborum.  Here’s how to do the exercise:

  • Before you set up, I want you to feel where your QL muscle is.  Reach behind your back and feel for the meaty area that is above your hip, below your rib cage, and right next to your spine.  That’s the area I want you to target with your lower back foam rolling.
  • Start by lying on your side as if you were in a side plank with your forearm on the ground and hips on the ground.
  • Position the foam roller in the QL area that just found.
  • Lift your hip off the ground and begin your lower back foam roll.  The area is not very large so you’ll only need to go back and forth a few inches.
  • If it’s a little too intense on your lower back, you can scale back and keep your hip on the ground so there is not as much pressure on your lower back.

How Long You Should Lower Back Foam Roll

An effective roll on your lower back will be sufficient with 30 seconds per side. 

Since you’re leaning on your side, this is one muscle you can’t roll both sides at the same time.  

If you feel one side is tighter than the other, go ahead and spend a few extra seconds loosening up the muscle.

Target This Muscle In Your Lower Back

Your quadratus lumborum connects from your hip to your ribcage.  A tight or injured QL is one of the main reasons why you might have lower back pain.

This muscle helps stabilize your spine and also helps your spine move left and right.

Maybe you’ve done this before where you twist too fast or a certain way and you hurt your lower back.  That’s the QL that is bothered.

how to foam roll the lower back

When To Do Lower Back Foam Rolling

My favorite time for my clients to do foam rolling for their lower back is first thing in the morning, as a midday break from work, and before their workouts.

First thing in the morning is a good habit to get into as it will help lengthen your lower back and get it ready for the day.

Many of us sleep in awkward positions and this will help loosen up the lower back after a good nights rest.

If you are someone that sits constantly for work, getting up for a couple minutes every hour or two to stretch and foam roll can have huge benefits on how you feel.

A simple back and hip stretch, paired with a couple foam rolling movements takes little time and will make you feel great.

Lastly, before a workout will help prime your lower back for any movements that will require stabilization.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Additional Stretches & Foam Rolling Movements Can I Do To Help With Back Pain?

When it comes to back pain and foam rolling, you’l want to spend extra time rolling on your glutes, hip flexors, and inner thigh.  All these muscles can play a roll in back pain so you want to cover all your bases and make sure these muscles aren’t tight and causing pain.

Stretching all these muscles along with foam rolling your lower back is also a good idea.

I put together a list of stretches (with videos!) that will help alleviate your back pain.

Can You Hurt Your Lower Back Foam Rolling?

Foam rolling your lower back is safe if you are not experiencing any severe pain in that area.   Shooting pain in your lower back is a sign that you’ll want to talk to your doctor before doing any of these movements.

If you experience tightness and slight pain from time to time, you should be OK with this one.

As always, you know your body best so be smart with your lower back foam rolling.

Will Foam Rolling My Lower Back Improve My Flexibility

According to studies, foam rolling can temporarily improve flexibility in your lower back.

Foam rolling the lower back can be helpful for improved flexibility during your workout or after sitting for extended period of time.  

For lasting flexibility and mobility, you'll want to incorporate stretching into your routine.

Lower Back Foam Rolling Recap

Stretching and foam rolling your lower back to help relieve tightness and deal with pain is a good strategy to get yourself to 100%.

Spend 30 seconds on each side slowly rolling out your QL muscle.  If an area feels tighter than other areas, it’s acceptable to spend more time on that section.