Do you have a self massage strategy? We give the lowdown on the best tools around.
Soft tissue work or massage is an important part of any injury prevention or rehab program. But what you do in between treatment sessions is just as important. This is where you come in. Self massage, just like strengthening and stretching is an important part of your rehab or exercise routine. Whether you are a desk jockey, a runner, a gym junkie or have an injury.
We often get asked what are the best tools for self massage. So here are the tools we use and recommend. If you have any questions about these tools or where to get them then please feel free to contact us. We do stock most of these items in clinic so the next time you are in feel free to try one out or pick one up.
1. Foam rollers
Foam rolling is an important part of your exercise or rehab program. It can be used to stretch out and release hard to get to areas like the ITB, rotator cuff, lats and quads as well as stretching out the chest.
Foam rollers are best used as a pre and post work out tool to prevent injuries and improve your performance, this goes for running too. They can also be used to reverse the hunched over posture we get into from sitting at a desk all day.
We recommend doing your foam rolling at night in front of the TV if you are finding it hard to fit rolling in to your daily routine. For some foam rolling tips click here to download a PDF.
There are lots of foam rollers on the market ranging from El Cheapo soft ones that wouldn't hurt a fly and therefore won't have any impact on your steel rod for an ITB, to deluxe foam rollers that will just stop short of breaking a limb. They come in different lengths so depending on your size and your need will depend on which one to get. If you are looking to just roll out the ITB and Stretch out your back then a short or medium one would be fine. If you want to do chest opening or pilates then the longer ones are what you need. The main key here is that it is really firm so as to get into the muscles and fascia. The shorter ones are also cheaper, easier to store and take places than the longer ones. We stock a small 30cm roller for $23, a medium roller for $30 and the long roller for $40. Another version of the foam roller is the Rumble Roller. It is the 1st picture below. They come in 2 lengths and also 2 firmness levels, pain or more pain. These rollers take the foam roller to the next level by adding ridges that stick out of the roller and can give you more point pressure than a standard roller. They are more expensive than a standard foam roller and are best to order online as we can't get them any cheaper. They cost from around $69 for the short ones and $99 for the long ones. If you are looking to up the ante from the standard roller then this is what you need.
2. Massage Balls
These can be likened to torture devices and in some ways they are. They will torture the pain out of your muscles. Use these guys for self release of Glutes, TFL, posterior rotator cuff, erectors and pretty much any superficial muscle. Ease into using the hard spikey balls as they can cause brusing and pain if you overdo it. Remeber some pain is to be expected. Pain for days afterwards means you've gone too far.
Also you can use any ball that suits from a tennis ball, cricket ball or even a lacross ball. Whatever causes "good" pain is key here. You need to be able to get into the muscles to release them. Bakballs are another massage ball that is just like the good old 2 tennis balls in a sock that you can use to massage up and down the muscles either side of the spine. It can also be used on other areas as a normal massage ball.
We stock both of these items. The massage balls are $10 and the Bak Balls are $40.
This bizarre looking device is one of the best self massage tools you can get. It is very unique in shape and size so it can get to nearly all the hard to reach places. The major advantage of this tool is that you use your hands so the fine control is there. You can really pin point the problem area. This tool really shines when it comes to the upper trapezius (neck and shoulder) muscles and upper back as no other tool can get downward pressure like the theracane. If you are an office worker who gets aching shoulders then you need ot have one of these, no arguments.
A word of warning with the theracane. It is addictive and with great power comes great responsibility. I recommend not overdoing it when you get one as you can easily hurt your self with this one. If you ease into it you will have years of happy use and less neck, back and general body pain.
We stock genuine Theracanes and sell them for $55, we also ship them Australia wide.
Be careful of cheap imitations with the theracane as there are lots of fakes on ebay. These are usually around $20. So if seems to good to be true then it is. They will break when you apply pressure. We have had people come in to buy the genuine ones after buying the cheap ones.
4. The Stick Roller
There are a few different types of these tools but basically the principle is the same. It is basically a long plastic stick with a handle at each end. The middle then rolls as you move it up and down a muscle. Kind of like a thin rolling pin. These are great for Quads, ITB, Calves, Tibialis Anterior and if you have a friend you trust they can use it on your shoulders and pretty much anywhere. The image to the left is the Tiger roller which is a bit more comfortable on the muscles. The stick roller is the one on the right. They retail from $30. A great tool for keeping those niggles away.
Like the rumble rollers we don't stock these as they actually cost us more to buy than to sell to you for the price on their website. You would be better off buying it online.
Whilst these tools are great they dont replace the treatment of a qualified, experienced professional. You should always use them with caution and ease into how much pressure you use. Pain is not always a good thing so if something is really hurting make sure you contact us to find out if that is normal or not.
Generally we suggest having at least a massage ball, a foam roller and a theracane. If you have each of these then you can definately keep on top of all all your soft tissue issues and also maintain your body if you are exercising regularly.
Please note: We only stock things we use ourselves so you can rest assured that we aren't just trying to sell you things you don't need or that wont work. We also try to keep the prices as low as possible as it is more important to us that you actually have these tools than for us to make lots of money out of you. Often you can get these things cheaper online but once you factor in shipping they will be much more expensive. Also you cannot guarantee the quality. There are a lot of really cheap foam rollers online and they are really bad quality so you are better off buying one from us that is mid range in price but is top quality. We only get our products from top Australian Physio suppliers.