Roll your way to better range of movement – The foam roller


What is a foam roller?

Foam rollers are a relatively cheap and versatile piece of equipment made from differing densities of foam/rubberized material to give a softer or firmer feel.   They are commonly cylindrical in shape and can be used in many different exercises.

Why use a foam roller ?

The foam roller is most commonly used to roll on using your own body weight to give a deep tissue massage and improve joint range of motion.  It can be used on all areas of the body but often used by golfers on areas that are often tight or restricted that include the thigh, calves and upper back.  Research has shown that pre-exercise use of foam rollers can increase joint range of motion in the short term and post exercise it can help to reduce muscle soreness.  The foam roller is portable and can be used anywhere meaning you can perform exercises with it anywhere and use it as part of your warm up and recovery from training and playing golf.

What foam roller exercise should I use to improve my golf

There are many great exercises that you can do with a foam roller to help your golf but a key area of your body to focus on is the upper back or thoracic spine.

Modern lifestyles often now involve lots of sitting in cars/transport and at desks and means many people often lack the ability to fully extend at the upper back.  The foam roller thoracic extension exercise focuses a specific extension stretch over each section of the upper back and helps to prevent stiffness in this key area of the body for golfers.

How it Benefits your golf game

Reduced ability to get full extension in the thoracic spine can have many consequences on the golf swing and injury risk.  Being able to extend the thoracic spine is crucial to allowing the shoulder girdle to achieve its full range of movement amongst other things.  Without this a golfer will often loss posture in the golf swing and or be unable to complete a full or effective golf swing.  This can mean being unable to make a full backswing and have technical faults.

Doing exercises like ”Thoracic spine foam roller extension stretches” as part of your daily warm up before golf will help you improve your thoracic spine rotation and subsequently your golf game.

How to do the “Thoracic spine foam roller extension stretch” exercise

Use a soft mat or comfortable floor area.  Sit on the floor and place the foam roller on the floor behind you as shown in the photo.  Lean back so that the foam roller is roughly at the level of your shoulder blades.  You can do this exercise with your hands behind your head and across your chest (giving yourself a hug).  Roll back and forth on the foam roller so it moves across the length of the upper back, to give a deep self massage of the area.  Do this for 15-30 seconds.

Then you can find an area of the upper back to stretch more specifically.  Stay on one area and lean back over the foam roller breathing out slowly.  Repeat this 2-3 times in a couple of different areas.

By repeating this on a regular basis you can maximize the short-term benefits in joint range of motion that using a foam roller has been shown to give.


Nigel Tilley

European Tour Performance Institute & Physio Unit

Twitter: @etpi_physiounit

Instagram: @etpi_physiounit

  Golf Fitness, Performance, Strength & Conditioning, Warm Up/Mobility