How to Foam Roll Your Shoulders | STACK

Become a Better Athlete. Sign Up for our FREE Newsletter.

How to Foam Roll Your Shoulders

June 21, 2013 | Nick Tumminello

Must See Sports Injuries Videos

Many athletes foam roll their lower bodies, but neglect the upper half. (Learn how to foam roll your upper back.) It's especially important to foam roll your shoulders to help protect the joints and maintain their large range of motion.

How Foam Rolling Works

Before we get into specific drills, it's important for you to understand what foam rolling is doing (and not doing) for you.

Many people claim that foam rolling lengthens fascia (i.e., connective tissue within the muscles) and improves tissue quality. This is unlikely, because to "lengthen" your fascia, it must lengthen your bones. (Learn more about the benefits of foam rolling.) It's more probable that rolling causes neuromuscular relaxation. Dr. Carl DeRosa, author of Mechanical Low Back Pain and Mechanical Shoulder Pain, discusses this concept in the videos below.

In other words, self-massage techniques like foam rolling may stimulate your brain to relax your muscles. Your muscles then become more tolerant when stretching dynamically and statically.

With all that being said, you can argue, "Who cares how foam rolling works as long as it helps me feel better?" And the resounding consensus is that foam rolling will improve your mobility and help accelerate the recovery process.

Foam Roller Shoulder Exercises

Now that you have a better grasp of the benefits and limitations of foam rolling, let's get into practical techniques.

You can perform these exercises before or after a workout. Roll slowly over the muscle, and make sure to focus on tender areas.

Thoracic Spine Foam Rolling Drill

Your shoulders and thoracic spine are an integral unit. If you lack sufficient t-spine mobility, your natural shoulder range of motion may be affected, which can impair technique when throwing or performing an exercise.

Shoulder, Chest and Biceps Rolling Drill

This drill works directly on your shoulders and the muscles that act on them.

Notice that we use a med ball instead of a foam roller, because it allows for better maneuverability, and the smaller surface can target smaller muscles. You can use a foam roller, but the med ball is more effective.

Nick Tumminello
- Nick Tumminello, known as the "Trainer of Trainers," is the owner of Performance University, which provides hybrid fitness training for athletes and educational programs for...
Nick Tumminello
- Nick Tumminello, known as the "Trainer of Trainers," is the owner of Performance University, which provides hybrid fitness training for athletes and educational programs for...
Must See
Brandon Jennings: "Always Improve"
Views: 2,086,641
Margus Hunt Benches 385 Pounds for Five Reps
Views: 18,578,295
Patrick Willis' Homegrown Off-Season Workout
Views: 1,218,714

Featured Videos

Quest for the Ring: University of Wisconsin Views: 224,260
Path to the Pros 2015: Training Days Views: 117,335
Quest for the Ring: University of Kentucky Views: 388,894
Load More


STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers


Latest issues of STACK Magazine


Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice


Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes


Find the latest news relevant to athletes

More Cool Stuff You'll Like

Prevent ACL Injuries With This Hamstring-Focused Workout

An Injury to the Anterior Cruciate Ligament, or ACL, was once a career ending injury. Thankfully, we now see instances where athletes recover from ACL...

Bulletproof Your Body with 5 Easy Injury Prevention Exercises

How to Prevent Baseball Injuries During the Off-Season

Evan Gattis's Protection-Enhanced Catcher's Helmet

Pectoral Tendon Ruptures and Injury Prevention

4 Sports Massage Techniques to Relieve Tight Muscles

2 Ways to Fix Anterior Pelvic Tilt

Achilles Tendon Ruptures: Prevention and Recovery

Tips for Working Out With a Hand or Arm Injury

6 Simple Tips to Prevent Knee Injuries

5 Things You Can Do to Prevent Muscle Injuries

Avoid Low-Back Pain With These 7 In-Season Exercises

How to Prevent Injuries With 3 Yoga Poses

10 Ways to Fix Back Pain

How to Treat Piriformis Syndrome

5 Tips to Intelligently Train Through Lower Back Pain

Impressive Advances in ACL Rehab

5 Exercises to Prevent ACL Tears

How to Fix Anterior Pelvic Tilt

Why Strengthening This Muscle May Fix Knee Pain

3 Causes of Recurring Hamstring Injuries

Connective Tissue: The Key to Preventing ACL Injuries

Quarterbacks: 4 Tips to Keep Your Throwing Shoulder Healthy

8 of the Most Ridiculous Off-Field Athlete Injuries of All Time

Predicting the Impact of DeMarco Murray's Hand Injury

5 Bodyweight Exercises to Prevent Baseball Injuries

The Future of Sports Injury Rehabilitation

How to Train With Running Blisters

4 Strategies to Prevent Tommy John Surgery

The 8 Most Dangerous Exercises for Your Shoulders

How to Keep Your Feet Healthy On and Off the Field

Outsmart Injury With These 4 Predictive Tests

The Secret Weapon Powering Stephen Curry's Resurgence

What You Need to Know About Tiger Woods' Back Injury

7 Ways to Fix Back Pain

How to Bench Press With a Shoulder Injury

Coaches: Prevent Injuries With the Recovery Management Tool

Basketball Players: Prevent Ankle Sprains With These 3 Exercises

Eliminate Elbow Pain with These 3 Methods

3 Ways to Prevent the Most Common Hockey Injury

6 Steps for Recovering From a Season-Ending Injury

6 Ways to Prevent Common Sports Injuries