The Basics on Using Massage Tools

Thomas_DuBois_CMTRecently 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.

The 4-1-1 for Using The Stick to Work on Sore Muscles

Have you seen or tried out “The Stick” yet, when you have tender muscles from a workout?  It is a great tool, that we keep stocked in our clinic as it is very popular for athletes of all levels.  With the help of our Certified Massage Therapist, Thomas DuBois, we have the 4-1-1 on using a “The Stick” to work out your muscle soreness.

The Stick


The Stick might resemble to some a bike handlebar with two handles, but along the center there are large beads that roll on the center of the bar.  There are two sizes of the stick available.  The larger one being a better size for reaching areas of the back.


Like the foam roller, the roller stick is best used to work on larger muscle groups such as hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, lower back muscles, forearms and the area where the shoulder meets the neck. The Stick makes a great substitute for the foam roller if you happen to be traveling, as it will fit easily within any luggage.


Much like the lacrosse ball and foam roller, ease into the deep tissues. Don’t force the pressure too soon. Allow your tissue to relax with lighter pressure before you really bear down. Once you do bear down, don’t be afraid to break the stick. It is very flexible and made to bend and conform to your contours. Find those tender spots and apply pressure for thirty seconds or until the tenderness decreases. Whichever comes first.


If you haven’t tried The Stick yet, be sure to ask one of our doctors, personal trainers, or massage therapists, how you can use it on a sore muscle group.  We have spares around the clinic to demonstrate.  If you like it, we keep them in stock at the front desk!

This is the third in a series detailing the differences and uses of popular massage tools that you can use from home.  Read about the lacrosse ball, and foam roller.