Foam Rolling/ spikey balls/self-massage torture tools – A foam roller or spikey ball can help to achieve similar benefits to deep tissue massage and, if used correctly, can help to improve flexibility and decrease muscle tension. In conjunction with a regular strength and conditioning programme, this simple piece of equipment can help to keep you injury and niggle-free.
Soft tissue release (controlled rolling) and trigger point release (spending time on a specific tender point or nodule) can help prevent injury and minimize building ‘niggles’. This can be done pre or post-training, and specifically targeted at an injured or tight muscle group as part of a targeting rehabilitation program. It is also an excellent way to monitor your muscles. Done routinely, we should know what your muscle groups feel post-training/ pre-training, so if you notice any areas getting tight, you can flag this, and monitor it.
It is interesting to note that a lot of the athletes in my care, come to me having identified areas of tenderness while doing their routine rolling. Initially, they attempt to ‘self treat’ but when they find they are not addressing the tightness or tenderness themselves and if they notice the same area while training. Seek treatment early before a ‘proper’ injury occurs, and thus it can minimize the training time loss by seeking help quickly.
Four areas to target for runners are lower leg (calf/ soleus), quads (all 4- inner/ outer and centre), hamstring (all three bellies), gluteals (buttocks). The lower leg and glutes are better targeted with a hard spikey ball, tennis or golf ball or sliotar vs a roller but again this is personal preference…
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