If you have tight muscles after training, it’s likely worth your while investing in a foam roller or massage ball. If used correctly, these items can help loosen tight areas and improve flexibility. If combined with a regular, targeted, strength and conditioning programme it may also help to keep you injury and niggle-free.
What is a foam roller?
A foam roller is a lightweight, cylindrical tube of compressed foam.
How do I use it?
Start by targeting the sore or tight area of your muscle. Lower the identified area slowly onto the centre of the roller and increase the pressure until you reach a point of discomfort (not pain) and hold/roll the area.
What is a massage ball?
You can purchase an item called a massage ball online, however, a tennis ball, golf ball, or sliotar will all work just as well. These can be used similarly to a foam roller and can sometimes provide a more targeted relief.
Why is it helpful?
Soft tissue release (controlled rolling) and trigger point release (spending time on a specific tender point or nodule) can help prevent injury and minimise building ‘niggles’.
When should I do it?
Rolling can be done pre or post-training, as part of a stretching routine, or when required. It can be 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, you 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.
Remember, if you find that foam rolling is not addressing the tightness or tenderness in your muscles or if you begin to notice the same area while training, seek treatment early before a ‘proper’ injury occurs, and minimise the training time lost by seeking help quickly.
Some of the key areas to target for runners include the lower leg (calf/ soleus), quads (all 4- inner/ outer and centre), hamstring (all three bellies), gluteals (buttocks).
*Article written by Emma Porter in collaboration with Tricia Streliof of Maple Motion Physio
**Tricia Strelioff is the clinic owner of Maple Motion Chartered Physiotherapy. Tricia graduated from the University of Saskatchewan in Canada in 1995. Since graduation she has worked in both private hospital and outpatient clinical environments in Canada, USA, Australia and Ireland. She is one of the only Certified McKenzie Therapists in the Republic of Ireland. An experienced triathlete and member of Galway Triathlon Club her dream of finally owning her own practice arrived in Dec 2016, her practice is located at 5A Father Griffin Avenue, Galway. You can contact Tricia directly by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or check out her website HERE