By Jason Laporte
DHAC Exercise Physiologist
By now most of us know that practicing flexibility is an essential part of any well-rounded fitness program. Stretching not only maintains and improves functional range of motion, but it also helps to promote recovery after rigorous workouts.
However, sometimes stretching alone is not enough to release all of the adhesions and knots created by repetitive movements. What can you do about it? Try myofascial release. I know; it sounds complicated. But fear not. Myofascial release is essentially just self-massage.
And, while you may think you look a little odd massaging yourself at the gym, myofascial release can be done using a variety of fitness equipment.
I personally love “the Stick”, and I use it after every strength and cardio session. How? It’s simple. Hold the “Stick” like a rolling pin, and while applying downward pressure, you slowly roll the it over a specific muscle group. The individual beads along the length of the “Stick” roll independently of one another. This feature allows for precise targeting of trigger points.
Trigger points can be identified by sensations of tenderness, soreness, or even palpable, abnormal bumps in the muscle. I especially love to “Stick” my calves and quadriceps after a long distance run to promote recovery.
Why not ask the fitness staff for information about availability and use of foam rollers, “the Stick”, tennis balls, med balls, and other modalities of self-massage? These tools can help to eliminate trigger points in muscles that cause stiffness, soreness, fatigue, and weakness. How about you? Are there any self-massage applications that you favor?