Thursday, December 3, 2009

New York Times Article on Self-Massage for Athletes

The New York Times  published an interesting article on self-massage for athletes called Becoming Your Own Massage Therapist by Dimity McDowell. It talks about some of the tools of the trade like the foam roller. I have found that the original white rollers compress too quickly and that the black ones like thisare much harder and last longer. My favorite traditional roller is the The Grid Foam Roller (it even serves as my pillow when I lie on the floor and watch TV). If you want a gentler and softer roll that feels more like a deep tissue massage try the Quadballer Roller. If you particularly want to target the lower legs use the Footballer. The most interesting (and deadly looking) of all the rollers is the Rumble Roller. The Rumble Roller does what other rollers cannot and that is to pin and stretch a muscle in multiple directions. You can more finely tune what points you are hitting with this tool. You can more finely tune what points you are hitting with this tool.

Another way to hit specific spots is to use the Trigger Point Massage Ball. This works well, but it looses its shape quickly and can then feel a bit lumpy. You will find that using a  tennis ball is not firm enough, but the massage ball is gentle and hits the points well. If you can tolertate a harder ball, then do what I do and use a golf ball on the muscles of my feet and other balls like a Lacrosse Ball for the glutes and other leg muscles. I have a variety of balls that I pull at when the mood fits from a softball to a little PINKY foam ball. There are a variety of prodcts, kits, and DVDs such as those from Trigger Point Performance that can make self-massage a breeze. Not mentioned inthe article are excellent products like The Stick or even for more concentrated work the Range Roller .

A more practical article is the companion piece Happy Muscles: Suggestions for Quick Relief that shows three self-treatment massages that you can do without any tools. There is a calf-massage, a quadriceps massage, and a massage for the tibialis posterior- the muscle behind the shin. The two lower leg moves were new to me. What I like about these massage moves is that they are not passive. You move your foot or leg with flexing or straightening moves as you apply pressure to your muscle so that the muscle tissues are stretched and scar tissue can be loosened  (sort of like ART moves).
Here's a quick video showing how to use the Trigger Point Therapy tools (or other substitute tools) before going for a run or workout.

Here is a good presentation on the Rumble Roller.

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