Ease Chronic Pain and Improve Exercise Performance with Self -Massage

Foam rollers are a “new” self massage tool that, in my opinion, are an absolutely essential part of any workout. Foam rollers, tennis balls, massage sticks and other devices can be used to roll and knead tight, overused muscles and fascia to soften the tissue and prepare it for exercise, or soften the tissue to release unnecessary tightness and painful trigger points from sedentary posture. Muscles/tendons and fascia that are abnormally tight can cause the joints to become misaligned and function improperly, eventually resulting in chronic pain. Self- massage techniques are also called Myofascial Release Techniques. (Fascia is a translucent connective tissue which winds around muscles and if wound too tight, can cause pain and dysfunction).
All athletes, from runners to baseball players, from recreational athletes to professionals, can greatly benefit from using these rollers on a daily basis. But I also find that foam rolling is wonderful relief for sore and tight muscles that can occur from sitting at a desk or shoveling snow too. Massaging soft tissue has always been an important part of keeping tissue healthy, but up until recently, that required going to a massage therapist for treatment. Now, we can massage our muscles on a daily basis ourselves, and then supplement with massages performed by a massage therapist.
To use foam rollers it takes instruction and some practice, but it is easy to learn. I suggest foam rolling for 5 minutes before any workout, and then perform your brief stretches and other dynamic warm-ups. I also recommend foam rolling for those who do not exercise, to address muscles that are tight and aggravated from sitting too much. Areas to concentrate on are gluteus, low back, front and sides of thighs and upper back. Foam rollers can also be used for various core and balance exercises- so they have many uses. Smaller balls like tennis or lacrosse balls can be used for concentrated areas such as calves and shoulders. Be advised- it is often slightly painful. And, the less healthy the tissue, the more painful it is.  Remember-if it hurts- you need it! Or, you KNEAD it!

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