A foam roller is a simple cylinder that can help alleviate pain and muscle tension and serve as an exercise tool. A foam roller can massage your aching shoulder muscles and help to improve your range of motion by loosening muscle knots, increasing flexibility and building your strength.
The latissimus dorsi -- commonly called the lats -- are two muscles on either side of your body, located underneath your arms along your sides. These muscles extend and rotate your shoulders, and are common sources of shoulder pain. To stretch your lats, lie on one side and position the foam roller horizontally underneath the lower arm. Roll your body up and down on the foam roller, using your legs to propel your motion.
The deltoids are three muscles positioned at the top of each arm. They work with your pectoral muscles to flex your shoulder, and also help to elevate and raise your shoulders. To work these muscles, lie on your side with the foam roller positioned perpendicular to your torso, underneath the top of your arm. Use your free arm to maintain your balance, then roll up and down, using your legs and arm for support.
Your pectoral muscles are the large, superficial muscles located on the front of your chest. They work together with the deltoids to flex your shoulders, and also play a role in stabilizing your body as you move your shoulders. To alleviate pectoral tension, lie down with your back on a foam roller, which should be parallel to your spine. Bend your knees with your feet flat on the floor, and your arms extended outward. Take a few deep breaths and settle into the foam roller, but do not roll. This stretches your pecs and can also help alleviate some back tension.
The deltoids connect to your shoulder blade and extend toward your spine on either side. They play important roles in rotating the shoulder blades when you shrug your shoulders. Tension in these muscles can cause shoulder pain, as well as neck and back tension. To stretch your deltoids, lie on your back with the foam roller positioned parallel with your shoulders, and beneath your head. Extend your arms straight down along your sides, then rotate one arm up toward your head in a sweeping motion. Sweep this arm back down and repeat with the other arm for five to 10 repetitions.