In my last blog, I wrote about why it is important to take care of your soft tissue (a.k.a skeletal muscles). In this installment I’m going to discuss all of the tools that can be utilized for soft tissue work.
The most common tool for self-myofascial release is a foam roller. This tool works best for large muscles like the quadriceps, calves, hamstrings, glutes, upper back, and the lats. Foam rollers are made in a variety of densities. They range from very soft to extremely hard. Chose which density works best for your situation, but remember that the intent is to place enough pressure on the soft tissue for it to release. Using too soft of a foam roller will not trigger this response.
Another great tool to pinpoint hard to reach areas like the pecs, hip flexors, piriformis, and the deltoids is a lacrosse ball or a tennis ball. Much like the different densities of foam rollers, a lacrosse ball will be much more firm than a tennis ball. Massage tools like a Thera Cane are good for the neck and upper back.
I think it would be an injustice not to mention that a skilled massage therapist is the best form of soft tissue work available. There are different massage styles and techniques, so be sure and do your homework before meeting with a massage therapist for the first time. Techniques like deep tissue massage and rolfing can be rather aggressive for someone new to massage.
In order to keep the muscles throughout your body functioning optimally, it is critical that soft tissue work be a staple in your exercise regimen. A good strategy is to meet with a massage therapist regularly and use the tools mentioned above before each training session for maintenance. In the next installment of this series, I will show some pictures of how use a foam roller and other tools for self-myofascial release.
Thank you for reading! Please leave a comment below if you have a question.
One Body! One Life! CARE for It!