In general, one of the many benefits of massage is enhanced hydration of your tissues. In your body, better hydration in a muscle means more water and nutrients important for muscular action, healing, and joint health.
Hydration isn’t about how much water goes into your mouth, but how thoroughly do you move your tissues so there are no “backwaters or swamps” – areas of stagnation and still water without inflow or outflow.
Massaging yourself at home with a foam roller or other tools provides a consistent benefit to maintain the larger benefits you get from the hands of your skilled massage therapist.
How you manipulate the tissue with a foam roller can be broken down into three different methods:
- Roll and Hold (RH) – roll along the length of tissue and hold for about 20 seconds on the most tender spot you find and relax the muscle into the hold
- Pin and Move (PM) – hold a pressure point and move the joint creating muscular motion over the pressure point
- Cross-Fiber (CF) – massaging perpendicular to the direction the muscle tissue runs (this will feel most similar to deep tissue work and carries with it the highest potential for discomfort.)
Roller Position: Perpendicular to Thighs
Body Position: Prone on elbows
In a prone position on your elbows and with the roller positioned just above your knees on your thighs, rock side to side, bending each knee as you lean away from it.
Double Side-Lying Inner Quad (Roller + Ball)
Roller Position: between knees running parallel to shins; ball is positioned under the outside of bottom thigh
Body Position: Side-Lying
Methods: Pin & Move
With your knees bent and legs pressing into the roller, bend and straighten the top leg only.
Inner Thigh (Roller + Ball)
Roller Position: Perpendicular and underneath thigh; ball is position between thigh and roller
Body Position: Sitting on floor
Methods: Roll & Hold
Using your hands, gently roll the roller to identify the most sensitive area(s) and then hold.
Calf Massage (Roller + Ball)
Roller Position: Perpendicular to calf; ball is between calf and roller
Body Position: Sitting on floor
Methods: Roll & Hold, Pin & Move
Using your hands, gently roll the roller to identify the most sensitive area(s) and then hold. In the same spot, begin pointing and flexing the foot several times. Then draw circles with the foot several times in each direction. Move the ball to a new spot on the calf and repeat the sequence in a new area until all sensitive areas in the calf are explored.
Roller Position: Perpendicular to torso, under one side of the rear hip
Body Position: Sitting on roller on one glute with bottom ankle crossed over top thigh.
Methods: Roll & Hold, Pin & Move, Cross-Fiber
This familiar move is most-commonly done somewhat inattentively rolling back and forth with little intention. We are going to be more deliberate. Roll to identify the most sensitive area(s) and then hold (roll & hold.) In the same spot, begin pulling and pushing the knee toward and away from you (pin & move.) Now move your entire body toward the roller and away from the roller pivoting on the point of contact between the roller and hip (cross-fiber.)
Two major consistent questions which arise around rolling are (1) What parts of my body should I roll?, and (2) How much should it hurt?
If it is tender like a deeply sore muscle only when you press on it, feels a bit knotted, or you know it is an area of chronic concern due to your personal activity and injury history, then you probably need to roll it. As for the how much should it hurt question – it should be “comfortably uncomfortable,” and not wince-inducingly painful. When things hurt a lot, it creates a negative physiological and psychological response. High pain causes a tightening and restricting response in the nervous system and also creates an unpleasant association with that activity – something to avoid if you’re expecting to do a little bit of this every day to ensure healthy tissues!
And here's that home workout using just a foam roller we promised you! Click here and enjoy!
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