It’s been a crazy few weeks dealing with my overwhelming exhaustion from my pregnancy. This is a little late, but better than never. Here is the final post on deep tissue massage using foam roller exercises. Included in this post are some pdf’s from around the internet with pictures and instructions showing you how to do foam roller exercises at home. You might want to read Part 1 where I talked about the formation of scar tissue and why you need to do foam rolling if you have scar tissues from an injury (and yes, repetitive injuries can cause scar tissues).
Deep tissue massage to therapy to get rid of tight muscles
Over the last few years, I realized that I rather have a broken bone than deal with soft tissue damage. At least when the cast is off and with a little rehabilitation exercises, you are as good as new (or as close to). But that is not the case with soft tissue damage.
Besides the risk of re-injury and scar tissue, you often end up with tight (sometimes sore) spots that might not necessarily be adjacent to the original injured area. Your muscles are interconnected by a thin connective tissue called a fascia. Fascia connects the muscles from legs to the muscles on your back. This is the reason why people with super tight hamstrings such as ruler body shapes like me would eventually develop back pain if we do not work on stretching these tight muscles. Lauren actually explained the idea of fascia pretty well in this post.
Foam Roller Exercises
The basic concept of foam roller exercises is placing the foam roller at the injured location or tight spot and rolling on the ground with it. If it is too painful when you initially try foam rolling, then you can just press the injured or sore spot against the foam roller until you build up the tolerance for it. Here are a collection of pdfs with pictures and instructions showing you how to do foam roller exercise at home.
The exercises from this pdf that seems to help with my hip pain are: Piriformis/Gluteus Medias, Iliotibia Tract, Upper Hamstring, Adductors, and Hip Flexors.
I love doing the thoracic spine mobility foam roller exercise. Since I adjust pretty easily, sometimes I am able “pop” my upper back just doing this foam rolling exercise without the help of my chiropractor. You might be able to do the TFL Roll easier using a tennis ball. See my comment about using a tennis ball for foam rolling exercises below.
Deep Tissue Massage with a Tennis Ball?
Maybe you do not have the money to invest in a foam roller, but there are one or two items in your home that can give you a deep tissue massage in a pinch. For example, you can try using a tennis ball or a small soccer ball (kids).
A foam roller provides more stability when rolling on the ground (and especially if you are new to foam rolling exercises) and covers a larger area faster. With a foam roller you do not have to spend as much time rolling on the ground. You can buy this foam roller kit for $20 and it includes a dvd of the exercises. However, a small firm object like a tennis ball really helps target specific injured area that is giving you pain.
For example, when I first started foam rolling exercises a few years ago, I made a lot of progress reducing my scar tissue with a foam roller. But as my hip got better, I find that I was having a harder time getting to specific areas with a foam roller, especially when some of the pain is concentrated at the crease close to the groin. That is when I discovered doing foam roller exercises with a tennis ball. Don’t forget – sometimes you only need to press the tennis ball at the sore spot to feel the muscle release in a sore or tight spot. And like a deep tissue massage, it is normal to feel sore the next day and over time the tight spot either disappears or becomes less intense.
Are foam roller exercises going to solve your problem long term?
No. Foam rolling is just a temporary solution. It can help you manage your pain. It is just like any massage session. You feel good for a while, but if you do not take care of the problem, the pain will come back. For example, I have a torn hip labrum and scar tissues in the surrounding hip area and certain spots in my back. What foam roller exercises do is get rid of some scar tissues and relax the surrounding muscles long enough so that I can do hip exercises to strengthen my bad hip. I initially spent more time foam rolling and icing than doing hip rehab exercises. Over time, I was able to get away with just hip exercises and icing occasionally. This is probably human nature, but now I only do my hip exercises diligently when I start to ache.
Until next time and thanks for stopping by Small Steps to Health.
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