1) Foam Rolling
The granddaddy of all self soft-tissue work instruments. The foam roll is a great tool for decreasing muscle tone and discomfort. It works great on those big muscle groups like hamstrings, quads, and that thick upper back musculature. The greater surface area of the foam roll provides a safe and non-threatening introduction to self soft tissue work.
I suggest using it at the beginning of your warm-up routine. There is no need to spend more than 3-5 mins on this. It usually gets the job done pretty quickly and when time at the gym is limited the more time you can spend moving the better.
This brings us to the ultimate goal of any kind of soft tissue work, which is to get us feeling better so that we can move more increasing our movement quality and resilience.
2) Mobility Ball
Now, if foam rolling isn't doing the work and there are some pesky “muscle knots”, a.k.a. muscle tension, its time for some focused work. A mobility ball with its low surface area targets specific tension spots for quicker and deeper muscle relaxation.
A tennis or lacrosse ball works great for this. I advise starting with a tennis ball, since it has more give to it, and progressing onto a lacrosse ball when you feel comfortable with the techniques.
The hardness of the surface that you roll on can also impact the pressure provided by the tool. In other words, the floor vs a matted surface will feel much different.
Using a foam roll I quickly scan the body to find what areas carry more tension. After I find these spots, I use the lacrosse ball to hone in on the tightest spot. Once found, I place the ball directly on it and through slow and in control breathing I relax onto the ball letting my body down-regulate and release all that built-up tension. Focusing on longer exhales tends to do the trick for me.
Pin and Stretch
Through a combination of both stretching and soft tissue work, the pin and stretch technique is a quick and easy way to kill two birds with one stone. A little more aggressive than the trigger point technique the pin and stretch technique is a great way to target the fascia system and get a deeper release of the muscle system.
3) Assisted Stretching
Last, but definitely not least, there is assisted stretching. This can be performed with the aid of a trained professional or using a tool like a strap to assist you in your stretching.
To work with one of our Licensed Massage Therapist or Chiropractors for some assisted stretching and to learn more on how to work on some of these by yourself you can go to our website : performanceandrecoverytraining.com to set up an appointment!