Recently we profiled three different massage tools found in our clinic and gym: the foam roller, the lacrosse ball, and the stick. In each we discussed what muscle groups they work best on, and a few techniques to prevent causing pain by using the tool incorrectly. If you haven’t taken a look at the articles, we encourage you to check them out now.
We asked our certified massage therapist, Thomas DuBois, a couple of frequently asked questions about massage tools in general, to add to the resources available.
Which tool allows you to stretch with the heaviest pressure?
Using these tools is not stretching. It is myofascial release to break up adhesions and scar tissue. The foam roller and lacrosse ball probably allow the deepest pressure because you can put the weight of your body on top of them.
Which tool allows you to stretch with the lightest pressure?
The stick will probably allow the lightest pressure and will get as deep as the roller or lacrosse ball because force is generated by your arms as opposed to putting your body weight onto the object.
What are good sources to learn proper stretching techniques?
Our trainers and the rest of us are great resources for someone looking to learn how to properly use the foam roller, lacrosse ball or stick. I am a great source for learning proper stretching techniques. I specialize in a technique called Active Isolated Stretching which is the most effective form of stretching that I know of. Depending on the area of the body, I will work with people for 30, 60 or 90 minutes to find out which muscles are the tightest and develop a “specific to them” home stretching routine.
Have you seen others at the gym rolling themselves over what looks like an oversized pool noodle? If you haven’t tried it yet, you should, and we’ll give you the pointers so you can try it for yourself!
The foam roller is a great tool to have at home to work through a tender muscle group after a strenuous workout or in the days following a personal training session at our clinic. If you haven’t tried a foam roller, or are questioning if your technique is helping, we have the 4-1-1 on foam rolling with the assistance of Thomas DuBois, Certified Massage Therapist at Kambeitz Chiropractic.
The first thing to understand is that foam rolling is not stretching nor should it be a replacement for stretching. Although some level of passive stretch may occur while foam rolling, the intention of foam rolling is to break up adhesions and scar tissue as well as induce a neuromuscular relaxation. The aim of stretching is to lengthen a muscle and foam rolling will never lengthen an muscle the way stretching does because it does not take the muscle to the end range of its motion. Foam rolling should be done in addition to stretching, not in place of.
The roller works best on large superficial muscle groups which includes hamstrings, quadriceps, adductors, IT bands calves, superficial glutes, latissimus dorsi, and erector spinae (which are the groups of muscles that create the columns on either side of the spine).
When rolling over your muscles, you will find areas that are more tender feeling than others. Feel free to hold pressure on this area for thirty seconds or until the tender feeling decreases. Whichever comes first. If the area is so tender that it causes your muscle to feel as though it is tightening in response to using to the pressure, lighten up. Avoid using the roller over bony surfaces.
The next time you’re visiting with one of personal trainers or massage therapists, be sure to ask for a complimentary copy of common foam roller exercises and areas to work. These instructions can lead you through a good general full body foam rolling routine.