Tips for self massage.
What can you do, when you are in between massage treatments to keep the body feeling amazing.
Tip 1 : It doesn’t have to hurt to work. You don’t have to grind down your soft-tissues to get them to lengthen, soften, or loosen. In fact, the more you bully your soft tissues, the more you arouse their innate defense mechanism. They brace in response to threat, via the muscle spindle response. Guess what else braces? Other nearby muscles who rally to protect the tissue under attack. The more you push, the more they push back. So when you’re rolling yourself like you’re ironing your birthday suit, your fascial tissues will likely swell and inflame full of defensive cytokines and make you feel even more swollen & stiff than before. Often as you roll, or stick or whatever, the “ouch” that you feel is your nervous system kicking into high gear and telling you that you’re pushing too hard, and to please back off. Are you listening? Or BALLdozing through it?
Tip 2 : Less is more.
There is no need to spend 2 minutes on every muscles group in the body to create a whole body release. In fact releasing the entire body, especially just before exercise can actually do more damage than good. Its having an understanding of what tissues need to be opened up before we exercise and then which ones need activation.
For example with cycling : I want to open up ankles and shins, and mid back. On returning on a ride release glutes, quads, hip flexors and mid thoracic.
Tip 3 : Not needed on a daily.
Rolling is not a daily activity , even if you exercise each day. The benefits of rolling the fascial tissue is the positive effects on the body are long term, rather than something that just lasts a day. If you find you are tightening up in the same areas the next day, you have been addressing the symptom not the cause. The body is a complex mechanism, understanding why you are feeling tension in a muscle can help to alleviate issues in other areas. If you are in doubt get in touch with me for a one on one consultation.
Tip 4 : Harder is not better
When foam rolling, it is important to choose the right type of roller to start with to minimize the amount of discomfort in the beginning (sometimes the pain the first time can be enough to scare people off forever!). Foam rollers come in different densities, or “hardnesses”. The harder to roller, the more painful it will be if you have extremely tight muscles and fascia. When starting a foam rolling program, choose a softer roller (usually colored white or light blue) and start there, and its not always necessary to shift to anything harder in the future. In fact fascial tissue responds much better to "encouragement to lengthen" than "forced to lengthen" .
Next article we will talk about the benefits of foam rolling for the tissue.