EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE MASSAGE ROLLER - part 2

Discover the benefits not only of the massage roller but also the massage stick!

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE MASSAGE ROLLER - part 2

The first part of the article explained why recovery is essential for every sportsman or woman and why this very important step should not be overlooked after training. In the second part, Anikó Góg, former triathlete and Olympian, personal trainer, human kinesiologist, writer of a recently published book called Újra én -edzés a várandósság alatt, szülés után (Training before pregnancy and after childbirth) and professor at the International School of Fitness ("IWI") continues to teach us about SMR rollers and self-massaging.

Let's look at why Anikó thinks that the massage roller is useful and what she thinks about the Aptonia products she has tested.

In the first part of the article, we've already seen the extent to which the elasticity of the muscles and the fascia system is important. Yes, of course, stretching! Those, who are on their regular run and take a break by a bench to prop up a leg and do some intense forward movements, must know something about the importance of stretching. Although their intentions are good, the technique is less so. I will return to this in another article.

To help you recover well, there is the massage roller. The way it works is quite simple: the application of pressure on the muscle and fascia using an object. This relaxes and stretches the area that is being treated and significantly boosts the blood flow when the compression is released. The number of objects that can be used for this purpose is infinite: rolling pin, PVC pipe, different types of children's balls. Those with a more adventurous and determined spirit can also use the leg of a table, a door handle, a Russian doll, a meat tenderiser or a Seltz soda siphon (because we stopped buying bottled water a while ago, right?)

The fascia and trigger points can also be relieved by specialists using manual techniques, but you can do the same at home by following a few safety rules.

Let's look a little closer at the professional accessories that you can use to self-massage. I tried the Decathlon products. This is my experience:

SOFT MASSAGE FOAM ROLLER

The surface of the roller is very even and therefore well-suited to the massage techniques that involve gently and continuously rolling the accessory on the muscles. It's an accessory that is suitable for beginners because it doesn't go as deep. As a result, it is a lot less painful to use than the hard rollers. Initially, this soft roller is also suitable for massaging more sensitive areas (outer part of the thighs, certain parts of the leg).

Massages with a roller shouldn't be painful and should not go as deep as the bone! The pressure applied to the trigger points can be painful or unpleasant depending on the compression. If you aren't used to it, your muscles will tend to tense up because of the pain, when you are seeking to achieve the opposite. To learn how to massage with a roller, it's best to use the soft roller!

The benefits of the massage ball and massage stick will be addressed later on in this article. Since autumn 2020, these three accessories (ball, massage stick and smooth roller) have also been available as a kit.

It's important to know that this type of roller has very little grip. It should therefore be used on the ground or in clothing with more grip. Otherwise, there is a risk of slipping and making extreme movements. In other words: do not use it in tights on a wood floor. You can use it to massage the muscles of your back and legs, but it is not as effective at getting to the smaller muscles that are buried deeper.

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE MASSAGE ROLLER - part 2

THE HARD massage ROLLER

When you get used to the soft roller and how it feels, even if you find it hard at the beginning, and the muscle knots start to relax and your tissues become more supple, it's time to move onto the next stage and try to use harder rollers with more grooves. The bigger the bumps on the surface of the roller, the deeper the tissues that they can attain. Some experience is needed with the device to get a bump to land directly on the trigger point (muscle knot), but if you succeed, continuous pressure for about 90 seconds can relieve the spasms. To do this, you need to pay particular attention to what is going on under the skin, but it is very effective in therapy. 

It is particularly important to keep the movements slow and controlled when using this roller, because rapid backwards and forwards motions can be unpleasant at first, giving a sense of being under a steamroller. If you use this roller, forget what you have already seen and what you think about this issue. Using this roller, you need to move forward centimetre by centimetre. You may feel some pain initially, but with perseverance and regular use, the results will be spectacular.

Some good news: the hard roller is also available in a kit with the massage ball and massage stick.

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE MASSAGE ROLLER - part 2
EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE MASSAGE ROLLER - part 2

massage ball

The smaller and more compact an accessory is, the easier it is to use for a targeted massage on the deep tissues. Consequently, the balls can be used to relieve the painful areas on the larger muscles, massage the sole of the feet (that's where I prefer to use them), a place that is even more difficult to massage with a roller, and stretch the pectoral muscles which have been shortened as result of having to stoop forwards. 

However much you try to strengthen the muscles of the back and bring the shoulder blade down, if this is prevented by the pectoral muscles on the opposite side because they have been shortened, it's like tilting at windmills. You have to start by regaining a wide range of movement. This is the basic rule! Because the ball is quite compact, you can take one with you in your car or keep it in a drawer in your office. Everyone should have one!

DOUBLE MASSAGE BALL

It is used to go deep down to reach the extensor muscles located on both sides of the spine without, however, putting any pressure on the spinal column. You can also stop the ball at a particular point and make it roll gently. 

If you feel that the weight of your body is putting too much pressure on your muscles when you are lying on your back, stand up and place the ball between your back and wall to have better control on the level of compression. It's important to always make progress gradually!

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE MASSAGE ROLLER - part 2
EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE MASSAGE ROLLER - part 2

MASSAGE STICK

In general, we use it to apply pressure on the leg muscles using the force of the arm and upper body. The different modules of the stick are removable, which means that you can choose which muscle to massage.

You can press the required point with a convex module or surround a muscle bundle or even create a fine massage roller in order to move the modules. It may be particularly useful for those who train outdoors and cannot do floor exercises.

The massage stick is used to massage the muscles when sitting or standing before and after training without having to roll along the floor.

VIBRATING ACCESSORIES

The vibration technology can be incorporated in all these accessories in order to attain the deeper tissues and help the muscles to relax more. The waves generated by the vibration and beating motion spread through the neighbouring tissues. The effect of the massage is therefore not restricted to the muscles actually massaged by these accessories. It's important to understand that it's preferable not to use them near bone structures. However, they are perfectly suitable for massaging the thicker muscle bundles. Use a gym mat and do not conduct massages on a hard floor.

Now, you need to use them to find out how useful and effective they are. This way, you will make the most of their benefits. On the brand website, you will also find videos to help you learn how to use these accessories. When you've done this, you can start to do regular massages while following the instructions for the accessories. This will ultimately relieve the pressure on your locomotor system.

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE MASSAGE ROLLER - part 2
EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE MASSAGE ROLLER - part 2

ANIKÓ GÓG

Former triathlete and Olympian, personal trainer, human kinesiologist

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