We all suffer from muscle tension and tightness and it’s often caused from repetitive patterns of movement, running an obvious example. Resistance training and poor lifting techniques can also cause tightness and knots and can make life pretty uncomfortable. A simple thing you can do to alleviate the pain and help restore comfortable and proper movement patterns is myofascial release, commonly known as foam rolling.
Myofascial release involves applying pressure to certain areas or trigger points of your muscles. It releases any tension between your muscle and the fascia surrounding the muscle, removes and prevents muscles knotting and improves the healing and recovery process. It also been shown to increase flexibility and subsequently reduce the risk of injury. It is in simple terms a method of self-massage; you get to choose where you target and how much pressure you apply. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t hurt, but it’s short term pain for long term gain!
The two common methods of myofascial release are using foam rollers and handheld roller massagers, the former being the most popular of the two. Foam rollers are cylindrical in shape and pressure is applied by lying the muscle in question on the roller and rolling back and forth. We stock a range of both rollers and handheld massagers but I’m going to focus on just a couple.
Pro-Tec offer a plain and simple, single density, smooth surfaced, foam roller offering even distribution of pressure to the muscle. The roller comes in two lengths of 18” and 35” with a 6” diameter and a travel size roller of 12” x 4”. At the lower end of the price point, it’s a perfect roller for when you’re just getting started and don’t want to experience too great a pressure. As well as this, Pro-Tec also have their Y-Roller; a foam roller with raised single and dual ridges offering you a more aggressive and targeted massage, but still with the smooth surfaces in between for a less aggressive, moderate massage.
The clear favorite in the foam rolling world is the Grid foam roller by Trigger Point Therapy. With a patented grid system of varying widths and densities, the Grid offers a massage that mirrors that of the human hand. The small squares act as thumbs, the long ridges as fingers and the large smooth areas as palms. You can choose which area of the roller to work on, with the smaller squares offering the most pinpoint pressure and subsequently the most pain! Again this is available in two lengths of 13” and 26” as well as a variety of colours. They also have a mini-grid, perfect for traveling as its just 4” in length.
However, if rolling around on the floor isn’t for you then the handheld massagers are a great option. Simply a thin foam roller with handles on either end, you roll the massage stick over the muscle applying as much or as little pressure is needed.
The Pro-Tec roller has raised Vynofoam sections that sink into the soft tissue, with rounded foam grips on either end, ideal for providing accurate pinpoint pressure to individual knots. The Tiger Tail is a second brand of roller massager, but offers a consistent distribution of pressure across the muscle. Both are easily packable for travel, easy to clean, easily adaptable for all muscle groups and very easy to use. So if you’re struggling from tight, knotted muscles or are wanting to improve your recovery rate, either method of foam rolling should do the trick. For other massage tools and injury prevention products take a look at the Injury Treatment page or visit us in store.
I use the Trigger Point Grid; the smaller squares offer that more intense massage which I find necessary and it’s light and easy to travel with. I do occasionally have the odd knot that won’t seem to budge, so for these I use Pro-Tec’s Spiky Ball. It’s a small, hard, spiked ball that’s just 3” in diameter. I lie on the ball with it directly on the knot, grit my teeth and wait for the pain to subside. I then massage the area gently and then go again. It hurts, but it really works and releases a lot of tension and discomfort.