Do you have a humpback?
Look in the mirror. Do you slump your upper back or do you stand ramrod-straight? Chances are you have shortened your height by not standing as straight as you should. You look older, and your chest collapses on itself. More than a cosmetic issue, your poor posture has consequences for your headaches.
You hunch over your computer much of your day at work or at home. As a result, by the end of your day, work stress combined with slumped posture has escalated your headache. Your headache-producing neck muscles have tightened up. Your sternocleidomastoid, occipital and upper trapezius muscles all tighten up in response to sitting with a lousy posture.
When you are at work, how can you possibly be bothered about thinking about your posture when other urgent issues cry out for your attention? It is not going to happen. However, after work you can gain control over your posture and your headaches.
How does the Foam Roll Help?
This simple piece of three-foot long foam may soon become your best friend. Lie on the foam roll after work and you may get your headache better in just several minutes if your headaches are triggered by tight neck muscles. Why?
The foam roll corrects your poor posture. Use it to apply pressure to your curved upper back area. Your slumped upper rib hump will likely slowly straighten out somewhat due to the foam roll pressure.
You may find that one of the best things about this foam roll treatment is that you do absolutely nothing at all. Gravity does the work for you.
Your Bones are Not Made of Stone
Your upper spine will slowly straighten out with the pressure that you apply to it if it has not been allowed to become too rigid. Tissues in the body respond to the stress placed upon them. Hunch over and your spine develops an unappealing C-curve. Do posture correction techniques such as the foam-roll pressure that stretch out your spine and it lengthens and straightens out and you will look great!
Your headache-producing neck muscles will loosen when the rib cage spinal segments below the neck spinal segments line up into a straighter posture.
How Much Time to Align the Spine?
You can use the foam roll daily or just once every week or two. Like most exercise programs, the best programs are the ones that you will follow through with. People benefit from a session of just a three-minute stretch, I find. People get off the foam roll and comment on how they simply just feel straighter and taller.
As a result of lying on the foam roll, you will likely notice that you can turn your neck left and right further than before. The pressure that straightens the upper rib cage often frees up neck stiffness in just a few minutes.
People tell me the foam roll feels so good they just like to lie on it for over 15-30 minutes. In other words, the time you spend depends on how motivated you are to straighten up.
Add the Chest Muscle Stretch into Your Foam Roll Workout
Many people stretch their chest muscles, the pectorals, by leaning into the corner of a doorway. Well and good, but this method is much more effort than if you simply lie on the foam roll and let your arms drop off the side of the foam roll.
Let gravity do the work for you! If you are like most people, you will feel the stretching force on your pectoral chest muscles.
Stop the stretch if you feel any sensation going down your arms or have any neck pain.
Half-Roll or Full-Roll?
Most people like the half-roll better. It does not roll around as much because of its flat base. You still get pressure on your upper rib cage area and yet stay relaxed at the same time. The half foam roll costs less, too!
I usually would put a pillow under your hips for two reasons. You often would feel a little more pressure in your upper rib cage as the pressure moves slightly up from the lower spine. Also, if you have back or hip pain, you ease up the pressure to your lower spine area.
If your spine is sensitive, put a towel or blanket over the top of both the half and full rolls to soften the pressure. You will still get the spine-straightening benefit.
Some clients like to do their theraband exercises while lying on the half-foam roll. You can do the shoulder blade squeeze quite effectively while lying on the foam roll. Do your arm press on the foam roll. Slide your theraband behind your back. Do not let your elbows go past your hip level on the recoil from the arm press.
An advantage of the full foam roll is that it adds more pressure to your spine. Drape your arms back and you feel a more intense chest muscle stretch than you would on the half foam roll. You can get a better core workout on the full foam roll. Also, you get more of a challenge with any balance training on the full foam roll.
However, the full foam-roll is more cumbersome and not as relaxing as the half foam roll. You will not lie as long on the full foam-roll as you will on the half foam roll.
I Hear Popping in My Spine in the Rib Cage. Is Something Wrong?
You may hear little pops in your spine as you lie on the foam roll. The pops should NEVER be painful. These pops may be nothing more than your spine adjusting as it lines up into a better posture.
You can buy various densities and forms of the foam roll. I prefer the medium-density foam roll for most people. Do not buy a foam roll that is so hard and uncomfortable that you cannot tolerate it. If you get too soft a foam roll, you miss the spine-straightening effect.
When Should I Not Use the Foam-Roll?
You should not lie on the foam-roll if you have any special medical issue such as a rib fracture or soft bone conditions such as osteoporosis or osteopenia. Check with your Doctor to see if you the foam roll is right for you!
-You understand that if not done properly, some techniques and exercises described in this blog could harm you. Any activities you perform are at your own risk, and you expressly agree to waive any claims against the author for any harm that may arise from your own actions. By reading this blog and conducting these exercises, you accept this risk. This blog provides content related to physical and/or mental health issues. As such, your use of techniques described acts as your acceptance of this disclaimer. Consult Chapter 2 in my book, “Calming the Headache Storm” to make sure the headache is not the sign of a more serious problem. The techniques, advice and strategies contained in this blog may not be suitable for every individual and should be abandoned if your headache increases. Seek the advice of your physician.