Spondylolisthesis Stretching: Foam Rolling Education (video)

Spondylolisthesis and foam rolling

Foam rolling is a technique that can be very beneficial in helping those with spondylolisthesis and spondylolysis. It is important to understand that foam rolling can help you, but it is even more important to understand why it helps you. Many are quick to brush off foam rolling without even knowing the real benefits.

The benefits of foam rolling include:

  • Smoothing and lengthening muscle and fascia
  • Breaking up scar tissue and adhesions caused by injuries, overuse and poor compensation patterns.
  • Increased blood flow which can help with recovery time.
  • Helps muscles to relax by stimulating sensory receptors.

Before we begin demonstrating certain foam rolling techniques that can be benefical for your spondylolisthesis or spondylolysis, it is important to understand what foam rolling does. The video below will help to explain…….


Remember these key points when you foam roll:

  • Go slow. Rushing does not accomplish anything. For the rolling to be effective you have to spend time on the “knotted” area.
  • Focus on the “knots” or “hot spots“. If you find one of these areas, stay on it and focus on smoothing it out.
  • Spend a minimum of 30 seconds to 1 min on each area you roll. If you find a “knot” spend a little extra time on it.
  • You cannot do too much foam rolling, but aim for a minimum of 4x a week. With a majority of the time on your rough areas. If possible try to foam roll every day for 10 minutes.

One of my favorite techniques is to foam roll during commercials of my favorite TV show. Commercials usually last around 2 minutes. This provides a perfect timer and gets you off your butt which is a win-win!

Note: If you have spent your entire life moving poorly or performing repetitive activities that cause adhesions and stress on certain areas, you cannot expect to fix them with one rolling session. It takes time, effort and consistency to see improvement.

Important Reminders Before You Begin:

It is VERY important to remember that foam rolling is simply a piece of the process that is involved with improving how you move and feel. It is NOT the lone solution.

Some may feel some relief after foam rolling, some may not. But foam rolling will not fix your spondy. Foam rolling helps to address areas that have been affected by poor movement, injuries, compensations, etc. Which in turn allows your body to move better and function more optimally(both muscular and nueromuscular).

When you have a body that moves and functions properly from a muscular and nueromuscular prospective, you have a body that is in the BEST position to move and feel great!

It is also important to remember that everyone will have different areas they should focus on when it comes to rolling. My examples provided on this website are my PERSONAL weaknesses, so they may not be the most effective for you.

I discovered my personal weaknesses through the use of a movement screen and evaluation (you can learn more about this on our site) and I would recommend you do the same so you can locate what areas you need to focus on when it comes to foam rolling.

And last but not least, make sure you are in good enough health to foam roll. Make sure you have clearance from your doctor/rehab professional to engage in any type of activity. The last thing you want to do is to hurt yourself even more……Please be smart and responsible.

What type of foam roll to purchase:

There are multiple kinds of foam rolls on the market. And they range in price.

Buying a foam roll will provide plenty of return on your very small investment. I have had my original foam roller for a few years and I use it multiple times per week.

Here are some suggestions on the best rollers I have come in contact with.

Note: If you are interested in purchasing any of the products below simply click on the image to learn about purchasing information from the same trusted company we personally use…Perform Better.  Perform Better offers great pricing and great customer service. By purchasing from the links/website provided we get a small percentage of each sale.

  • Cell foam rolls — Soft and very low-cost, but they deform easily.
  • Molded foam rolls — Either soft or firm versions, low-cost, and typically hold form well over time.

PB Elite Soft Molded Foam Rollers

PB Elite Molded Foam Rollers

  • EVA foam rolls — Similar to the material in the sole of your athletic shoe, firm without being too stressful, middle-of-the road cost, and hold form well over time.

EVA Foam Rollers

  • Textured foam rolls — A variety of densities and designs of the bumps to provide deeper penetration than a flat foam roll, higher-cost, and typically hold form well over time.

The Grid Foam Roller

The more fancy “bumpy rolls” may seem attractive, especially when advertised as the next best thing to a massage therapists fingers.  But I have found most clients are just as happy using a ball. We have specific balls for the purpose (such as the one below).

Posture Ball

There you have it!

A full tutorial on foam rolling and in my opinion….a great way to start moving and feeling better!

Comment below if you have any questions about foam rolling or rolling tips you would like to share that have helped your spondy battle!

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Leave A Reply (17 comments so far)

  1. francis
    4 years ago

    great start for me.Very comprehensive and well delivered .

    • Spondy
      4 years ago

      I am glad you found the information helpful. Best of luck in your recovery Francis.

  2. charlie galliher
    4 years ago

    Great video, and very encouraging – The video example looks like it focuses on the quads or front area –
    i have issues there as well, but the majority of my pain is in my lower back, and happens after short to long periods of standing. Are there roller exercises for this?

    Thanks again!

    • Spondy
      4 years ago

      Hi Charlie. Thanks for the comment. I understand that most of your pain is in the low back and a large majority (myself included) of spondy sufferers have pain in the low back. The point of the foam rolling videos is to help people understand that although the pain is present in the low back, certain restrictions in muscles tissues, ligaments, mobility, or even stability etc may be contributing to this pain. Sometimes exercises or in this video’s case foam rolling, areas throughout the body can lead to an improvement in an overall set of movement skills and thus lead to a decrease in pain. For example we have seen patients improve how their low back feels by increasing their range of motion in the ankles or upper back. However, everyone is different. I encourage you to download our beginner’s recovery guide to learn more about this. You can do so here: https://spondyinfo.com/report/

      This will also set you up with our newsletter that provides a ton of great articles and information on this topic and will set you on the right path to understand this important concept and hopefully allow you to start moving and feeling better!

  3. Mercedes Bautista
    3 years ago

    I have the blue foam roller.My trainer discourages me from doing the stretches above saying that I am compromising my spine by moving up and down. She says I am better off to look for stretch exercises that is moving sideways since my spine does not move. I am confused. My spondy is on L4 L5 G1.
    My lat muscles as well as glutes are tight on my right side and I know I must have a pinched nerve on my left since I can feel it on my left pinkie toe. Are there any safe stretches using the foam?
    Can you direct me to the site if you have? thanks

    • SpondyInfo
      3 years ago

      Hi Mercedes. HERE IS A LINK to all of the spondy stretches and exercises that I personally find helpful for my grade 1, stable, isthmic spondylolisthesis. My recommendation is to discuss what is “safe” for you with your trainer. The reason I say this is because what is safe for you, may not be safe for another spondy patient and vice versa. Your trainer knows your body and how it moves. They also know your weaknesses and strengths. If you have tightness in your right side it is important to ask yourself “why”? Why is your body getting tight on one side? Discuss this with your trainer and ask them if this tightness could be contributing to your spondy pain. Another thing to look into is a full body screen or assessment. I discuss that more here: https://spondyinfo.com/how-poor-movement-can-affect-your-spondy-and-how-to-fix-it/. Hopefully your trainer can help you to develop a plan to correct these issues and get your body moving correctly. Best of luck!

  4. Andrew Marks
    3 years ago

    I have found foam rolling v.beneficial. Never simply try 1 modality though, try a few different approaches and have the movement screen, this presents itself as a good opportunity to correct bad posture and habitual negative movement, and check those stretches that may not be suitable for you personally. Sorry, but so far I have not spoken to a single doctor who understands Spondylo related conditions and source much of the info used today from trainers, coaches and folk who specialise in rehab of people who suffer poor movement though injury or other.

    • SpondyInfo
      3 years ago

      I agree Andrew. Foam rolling is something that I have found very beneficial in my battle and I encourage everyone to at least give it a try. You are dead on with your comment regarding a screen to locate habitual negative movement habits. This is key for people to really discover what areas they need to target when foam rolling. Everyone is different and therefore may require slightly different foam rolling exercises than someone else. It sounds like you are on the right track Andrew….Thanks for posting!

  5. Steve
    2 years ago

    Thanks for the post. I’ve got a spondy at L5 grade 1, stable, isthmic spondylolisthesis diagnosed about 6-8 weeks ago. I stand-up paddle board race and I find the rolling helps post-paddling. I’m trying not to arch my back too much while paddling while keeping my core and glutes super engaged. Interestingly, my PT doesn’t recommend rolling anywhere near my lower back. She didn’t really say why. I also go to another PT in the same office and he has the SFMA certification and I just shot him an email for his comments. The stretching exercises do help but they haven’t eliminated the gnawing pain (roughly 2-3 on a 10pt scale) that seems to characterize this condition. It’s incredibly frustrating as I’ve never had back issues before. Thanks for the post.

    • SpondyInfo
      2 years ago

      Hi Steve. I have always wanted to try Paddling, it looks like a great way to enjoy the outdoors and exercise. Rolling the actual spine is never a good idea. You always want to stay away from boney structures and focus more on soft tissue. The soft tissue is where the “knots” and issues arise. The bones and joints do not have any knots and are not positively affected by the rolling. Only pain occurs when rolling directly on a bone and you especially want to avoid smaller bones such as vertabra. That is a great idea to seek out an SFMA. Although you make a conscious effort to stay engaged during paddling, this is something the body should do naturally. When you consciously make an attempt to do these type of things during activities often times compensations can/are taking place and you are not allowing the natural movement occur. Movement is an amazing thing and requires actions in milliseconds throughout the body. The SFMA exam should help the PT locate any areas where issues may be and hopefully get you on the right path to feeling and moving better. Let me know how the SMFA goes. Best of luck!

  6. laurie
    1 year ago

    what if your lower spine is pulling in towards your belly is this a good way to get it back in place

    • SpondyInfo
      1 year ago

      Hi Laurie. I am sorry, I do not follow your question. If you could, please go into a little more detail and I will do my best to get back to you. Thanks!

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