If you are anything like me, you feel muscle tightness more than you would like to admit. There are many factors that can contribute to body tension including stress, tough workouts, or maybe you slept wrong or were in a standing or sitting position to long and your body let you know it wasn’t feeling it!
If you have the opportunity, mix up your workouts to give your body variety in movement. I love running, hiking, weight training and biking but I also add core-based activities to my weekly workouts, like Pilates, yoga, and dance, to let my body enjoy different types of load bearing movements. In addition to any of those workouts I also try to spend 15-20 minutes per day stretching.
Often, we can be more cognizant of our body movement when exercising but stress from work, travel, kids or worry can take a toll, and we find our body in a chronic state of pain before we realize what’s happened. Staying in tune with ourselves and noticing when we feel fatigued or stressed allow us to make small changes that can prevent tension and overwhelming pain.
Another way we can fight chronic fatigue and stress that comes from all facets of life is by relishing in a regular massage. Regular massage is typically done with a licensed massage therapist in an exercise studio, wellness center, or national massage locations like Hand and Stone or Massage Envy. Many communities have independent and traveling massage therapists that make access to a massage very convenient. The benefits of massage are both physical and mental, helping increase circulation in the body, relieve stress and pain, nerve impeachment or release restrictions in our movements, while reducing stress and tension in problem areas of the neck, feet, and hips. Massage can also help reduce the chance of pulling muscles and ligaments when working out. Massage assists in reducing blood pressure, relieves headaches, and has been known to decrease anxiety. When you are more relaxed after a massage you can think more clearly and are less likely to overreact to challenging situations in your life.
If you are unable to enjoy a regular massage due to money or time constraints, self-massage is another option. Self-massage is a massage you give yourself and is beneficial and time permitting because you can do a self-massage traveling, at home or even at work. Self-massage can cost much less than going to a licensed massage therapist and is a great option in between regular massages to maintain a healthier state (of mind and body). Regular or self-massages provide the ability to massage frequently
which means the body will respond better.
I recently sat down for a discussion about massage with Jim Truncali, friend, long time massage therapist, yoga instructor, and mountain bike enthusiast. Jim talked about one of the benefits of self-massage and on how much more you control over your body. Because you know your body, if there is a certain spot that feels good you can work that area longer. One downside of self-massage we discussed is the limited amount of relaxation one can feel because you are controlling the massage, as compared to an entirely relaxing experience when you receive a massage from another person.
Jim and I went on to discuss four tools to assist with self-massage, the foam roller, Theracane, Roll Recovery R8, and Trigger Point Balls. As you continue reading you will find a description and photo for each tool. I recommend asking your massage therapist, doctor or fitness trainer about these and other self-massage tools, and search online for purchasing options.
Foam rollers are an inexpensive way of getting a good massage. They can be used after a workout to speed up the healing process, or other times to give yourself a deep tissue massage. To use the foam roller, you lay on top of it and slowly roll back and forth to break up tissue and adhesions. Foam rollers also help massage your muscles laying on your side or back. You should use the roller for 2 minutes with 30 second breaks continuing until you feel tension release. Its also beneficial to ask your trainer or doctor for tips on the best rolling duration for your body.
The Theracane (also known as the Massage Cane) is a self-massager that has many uses. It can be used to massage your back, shoulders, neck, arms, legs, chest, feet, hips, and ribs. The Theracane contains multiple massage balls that help reach hard to reach places for a quality massage. The Theracane helps with knots, stress and tension relief, assist you recover from overexertion faster. If you choose this massage tool option, the manual will provide trigger points on the body which will help you when determine where on your body to massage.
The Roll Recovery R8 tool allows for a deep tissue massager that can support recovery from injuries and help relax your muscles. This tool can be used on your quads, hamstrings, calves, and glutes. To use it, you place it over the area that you want to massage and slowly roll it back and forth. It can be used at multiple different angles and in multiple different places - using spring technology it embraces your muscles even while sitting.
Trigger Point Balls are used to relieve muscle pain while affordable and easy to transport. They are used to reduce muscle tension caused by muscle trigger points. When using the balls, place direct pressure
over a trigger point as you roll them against a wall or the ground, for approximately two minutes at a time, to relieve pain. You can also use tennis balls as a cheaper, often a quickly available option.
When managing stress and nourishing your both physically and mentally, massage is a great way to stay healthy! If you can enjoy regular massages, ask your therapist what areas of your body would benefit from self-massage and stretching in between sessions. Whichever option you choose, regular professional massages and/or self-massage, it’s important to listen to what your body needs. It’s also beneficial to speak to a massage therapist, doctor or trainer before using any of self-massage tools. Whatever you decide, remember that you do have options to fit your lifestyle, time and budget.
Thank you to Jim Truncali, owner of Performance Recovery Bodywork, Flagstaff, AZ, for sharing helpful tips on staying healthy through massage. For more information or to contact Jim visit his Facebook page @PrBodywork.
Visit www.amileforeveryyear.com and enter in your email to personally receive my regular blog, filled with information to help you live a healthy lifestyle, and to receive promotional offers and discounts on A Mile For Every Year books and merchandise.
In good health,
A Discussion on Self Massage [Personal interview] with Jim Truncali. (2018, April 27).
Benton, Emilia. “The Game-Changing Recovery Tool That's Helped Me Prevent Future Injuries.” SELF, SELF, 20 Nov. 2017, www.self.com/story/muscle-recovery-roll-recovery-tool.
Editors, shape.com. “10 Ways to Use a Foam Roller.” Shape Magazine, Shape Magazine, 27 Oct. 2017, www.shape.com/fitness/workouts/10-ways-use-foam-roller.
“How to Use Trigger Balls.” BakBalls - Back Pain Relief, www.bakballs.com/how-to-use-trigger-balls/w1/i1018914/.
Team WR | Aug. 25, 2016. (2018, July 26). 5 Self-Massage Tools To Soothe You From Head To Toe. Retrieved from http://womensrunning.competitor.com/2016/08/health-wellness/injury-prevention/5-self-massage-tools-soothe-head-toe_64460
Thera Cane; Deep Pressure Massager Owner's Manual. Thera Cane; Deep Pressure Massager Owner's Manual, Thera Cane, 2013. http://www.theracane.com/TCmanual_English.pdf