Whether you’re injured or not, you would benefit from performing regular soft tissue maintenance to keep your muscles supple & healthy. This is something you can do yourself using a foam roller, massage stick, &/or ball.
Self massage helps ease pain & stiffness, warm-up tissues in preparation for a workout, & accelerate recovery after a workout.
Muscles tighten up due to habitual postural stresses as well as too much (or too little) physical activity. As a society, we tend to do excessive amounts of sitting & screen time (TV, computers, tablets, etc.). This results in certain muscles tightening up.
Some typically tight muscles in our lower body include our hip flexors, hamstrings, calves & the arches of our feet. Different physical activities & sports contribute to different patterns of tension. I will highlight some things you can do to ease excessive tension in your low back, hips & thighs.
When healthy muscles are massaged, they should be supple & pain-free. If you identify a tight painful area during massage, it’s a trigger point. Trigger points feels like “knots” in your muscle. When you apply pressure to a trigger point, it will be tender, & it may pulsate &/or refer pain to nearby areas.
You can ease trigger points on your own through self massage (often with a foam roller or ball). There are two common trigger point release methods:
- Apply a constant pressure to the area & try to relax into the restriction.
- Move back & forth over the trigger point to encourage it to release
Each body part has different needs. Prioritize self massage to the tightest areas. To assess the effectiveness of self massage, do a pre-test/post-test. Perform a stretch before & after your self massage. If the self massage was effective, you should have better flexibility & ease of movement afterwards.
I recommend you spend 20-30 seconds per area if you are doing general maintenance such as the foam roller warm-up below.
If your inner thigh (groin muscles) are tight, you will better target them using a small foam ball. You can massage this area with the foam roller, but I find it a little awkward.
If you are having pain, or just feel especially tight, you could use a small foam ball, tennis or lacrosse ball to better target specific trigger points. The smaller & harder the ball, the more intense the massage. I recommend you spend as much time as you need to release the trigger points. For best results, spend 5-10 minutes working on especially restricted areas.
Give those self massage techniques a try & let me know what you think. If you want to get better faster, set up an appointment with me & we can tailor a program specific to your needs.