We know that using foam rollers and massage tools for self-myofascial release before and after a workout is key to improving performance and recovery, but these practices can also help ease pain associated with the stress and tension of travel and the holiday season.
(For more information on the benefits, see fundamentals of foam rolling.)
While you’ve got to stay focused on the essentials – staying hydrated, getting plenty of sleep, and planning ahead—using a foam roller and massage tools can provide significant benefit for easing holiday tension in your body through increasing blood flow. In fact, rolling each muscle group for just one minute has been shown to increase range-of-motion and flexibility, restore better movement and reduce aches and pains. Fortunately these tools have become more compact, making foam rolling easy and convenient no matter where you are.
Now while your back and neck may feel more tense and tender than other areas, you should typically begin with the lower body and work up for the best flow.
Roll into the holiday season with less stress and fewer aches and pains by following these seven TriggerPoint releases in the order they appear. You’ll be done with it all in less than 10 minutes.
- Apply pressure to the roller keeping your foot relaxed.
- Slowly roll forward and backward four times.
- Pivot your foot on the roller twice, extending toes to the sky.
- Hold the roller with an underhand grip and apply pressure near the ankle.
- Roll half way up the calf and back down four times performing two circular motions in each direction. If a tender spot is found, use the handle to apply direct compression and hold for 20 seconds.
- Repeat on the top half of the calf.
Hip flexor release
- Hold the roller with an overhand grip and apply pressure to the hip flexor.
- Slowly roll away from the hip flexor, about half way down the leg and return back to the hip. Repeat four times.
- Position the roller on the hip flexor and perform two rotation motions to each side. If a tender spot is found, use the handle to apply direct compression and hold for 20 seconds.
- Hold the roller with an underhand grip and place under the leg, near the hamstring.
- Apply pressure to the hamstring near the knee and slowly roll half way up the hamstring and back down. Repeat four times.
- Perform two rotation motions to each side. If a tender spot is found, use the handle to apply direct compression and hold for 20 seconds.
- Repeat this process on the top half of the hamstring.
- Position the massage ball on the ground or chair directly under your glute. Rotate your hips to apply more pressure, if needed.
- Slowly bring your knee towards your chest and extend four times.
- Place your foot on the floor and rotate your leg out and in twice.
- Finish by pivoting on the ball twice.
- Position the massage ball on the muscles of the chest, near the shoulder. Place the hands on top of each other and raise the elbows to shoulder height.
- Apply pressure by pushing into the chest and pivot the massage ball four times.
- Maintaining pressure, pull the ball towards the armpit. It is important to initiate the pulling motion by squeezing the shoulder blades.
- Position the massage ball at the top of the shoulder muscles near the base of the neck.
- Apply pressure by leaning back into a sturdy wall and hold for 20-30 seconds.
- Slowly roll side-to-side four times.
- Finish by raising your arm overhead twice.
Stay loose, limber and stress-free this holiday season by committing to a regular foam-rolling and self-myofascial release practice.