Self Massage And Self Care
Those of you who have received our massage work already know that we
strongly believe in self-care to speed the healing process and prevent
injuries. This article includes examples of self massage tools such as
the Foam roller, The Stick, Golf Ball, Lacrosse Ball, Tennis Ball and
The road to healthy running isn’t the same for everyone. Some runners
are genetically gifted with optimal physiology, while others struggle to
put in even a few
miles without encountering an injury. Treating and
preventing injuries may include a myriad of techniques and therapies,
such as stretching, strength work and physical therapy.
those treatments work for some, a growing number of runners are
discovering real relief in massage. In fact, a recent study out of
McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario showed, for the first time, how
effective massage might be. This research, published in Science
Translational Medicine, had participants exercise and then gave them a
10-minute massage on one quadriceps, but not the other
(http://stm.sciencemag.org/content/4/119/119ra13). After taking muscle
biopsies of both legs, the results revealed that the side that received
the massage had reduced inflammation.
This means that the
healing process post-exercise was kick started more quickly, allowing
for damaged muscle tissue to begin repairing. What’s more, massage is
something you can do on your own, free of charge, even at home or in
your office chair.
What’s the Rub?
Tiana Cain, a trail buff who trains
in Greenville, South Carolina, is one of those runners. After visiting a
massage therapist for a leg injury, Cain says her entire body
benefited. “Not only was massage therapy more cost effective than
physical therapy, it had benefits that went beyond helping that
particular injury,” she explains. Since then, she has added regular self
massage to avoid injury and stay loose and ready to run.
to Cain, Ray Churgovich, a trail ultra-runner from Boulder, Colorado, says
that massage played a major role in making running possible for him.
“There was a point where my shin splints were so bad that it was
impossible to distinguish the pain between my muscle and bone,” he
explains. “Massage helped break down the build up of unhealthy tissue.”
Massage assists in
injury prevention and, in turn, improves training. The pounding, your
gait and your own physiology can all lead to various issues and
imbalances that can cause injury. Massage can help combat
everything from shin splints to Achilles tendonitis to back pain, by
improving circulation, eliminating tight spots and working out adhesions
and scar tissue that impede optimal functioning.
prevention is the best option, injuries are still bound to happen. When
scar tissue build-up in the soft tissues is neglected long enough,
problems often result. Through hands-on massage or the use of a
self-massage tool, like a foam roller, these fibers are broken up and
reabsorbed, thereby restoring the original state of the tissue. Through
this process, proper movement patterns are reintroduced, allowing the
athlete to avoid secondary injuries that can occur as a result of
overcompensation. For instance, if scar tissue has built up around your
hip, you may not be effectively swinging your leg forward with each
step. By restoring full movement to the hip joint, you’re better able to
maintain a healthy gait.
professional massages are most beneficial, at-home massage is important
for sustained running health. A massage therapist can give you the greatest treatment
ever, but if you go home and don’t do the maintenance, the problem won’t
professional massage can be pricey, make
once-a-week or bi-monthly visits during the four to six weeks of your
peak training block. Similar to stretching, it is best to make time for
self massage post run when muscles are warm. Depending on your injury
history, perform a light self massage routine five to six days a week.
has an arsenal of massage tools, including a foam roller, The Stick, a
foot roller and a lacrosse ball. Depending on what ails you, consider
the following self-massage tools and techniques to help keep you healthy
and moving forward. Begin by gently massaging each area for 30 seconds
to a minute and increase the intensity as your body adapts.
Tool: Foam Roller
Area: Quadriceps, hamstrings, illiotibial (IT) bands
with your IT bands. Lie sideways on the ground with your left leg on
top of your right leg and lift your body up to place the foam roller
beneath you, perpendicular to your body. Put your weight on the roller
just below your right hip and brace yourself on the floor with your
right arm. Slowly roll the device down toward the side of your knee,
then roll back up toward your hip. Similarly, lie face up to roll out
your hamstrings and face down to roll out your quads.
Tool: The Stick
Area: Calves, hamstrings, quadriceps
little brother to the foam roller, the stick is used in a similar
fashion. However, instead of relying on body weight, you use your upper
body. This is particularly good for the calves, which are hard to
massage with the foam roller.
Tool: Golf Ball
Area: Plantar fascia
your foot on top of the golf ball, and make circles around the heel
area and then lengthen strokes towards your forefoot. If you have a
tight area, pause on top of it and apply a bit of extra pressure. Begin
by sitting and as your body can tolerate it, apply more weight. Be
careful to avoid pushing too hard and causing bruising.
Tool: Lacrosse Ball
Put your lower
back on top of the ball on the floor or a hard surface. Focus on
circular and linear movements on tight spots and work your way up toward
the trapezius muscles of the upper back. If a lacrosse ball feels too
firm, start with a tennis or racquet ball.
Tool: Tennis Ball
by sitting on the ball at a set point and roll towards your hip. Go
back to that point and roll toward your back. Your body should be facing
a different direction at the end of each roll. Since this is an area
that can handle deeper massage, switch to a lacrosse ball if the tennis
ball isn’t dense enough.
Massage Works... Let Us Support You...
If you have questions on self massage or home care, we are here to help.
We can demonstrate the use of many self massage products and even sell
some from our offices. Contact us if you would like more education on
the use of any self massage products.