I recently posted an article here that discussed how to get the most benefit out of your massage sessions. One of the key points was that how much of an effect a massage will have on you, will depend greatly on what you do to take care of your self in between sessions. “Self-care” is a term I toss around a lot both on this site and in my conversations with clients and refers to eating well, exercising, stretching and taking time to unwind each day. Today I am going to focus on the best all around tools for maintaining flexibility and reducing muscle tension. The list isn’t long. There are only two items that you really need to have on hand.
The foam roller is by far the number one product I recommend to my clients. It is versatile, inexpensive, lightweight and easily tucks away into a closet. Sometimes referred to as Self Myofascial Release (SRM) the foam roller not only massages and stretches muscles and tendons, but also breaks down adhesions and scar tissue. Just a few minutes a day on the roller will increase your flexibility and leave you feeling more relaxed. Body Spex offers a great compilation of free video demos on how to use the roller. And the following videos from The Body Window also demonstrate some nice shoulder, hip and low back routines. Buy now.
|Video Demonstration #1
|Video Demonstration #2||Video Demonstration #3|
For those times when you have a knot you just can’t get to, a sturdy ball and a hard surface are just the thing you need. While you can certainly buy a trigger point ball designed specifically for this purpose, I find that a tennis ball usually does the trick just as well. This trick works especially well for trigger points in the hips and shoulders. This video by American Yogini is a great example of how to do it. Look for those spots that really feel tight and hold the ball there for a minute or two. Buy now.
Combined with a good all around stretching routine these two tools, when used regularly, will act as mini-massages in between your regular massage sessions and help to keep you loose, limber and relaxed.