Foam Roller- The foam roller pictured is one from TP Therapy products and is called “the Grid.” The foam roller is a very effective way to improve local blood flow to soft tissues, to mobilize certain parts of the body such as the thoracic spine (gentle!) and it may also be used as a tool for stability exercises (see www.Prehab.TVfor more information). The foam roller is also effective in “scanning” a region such as the calf for tighter/tense spots that may need further attention. Other foal rollers are effective and do a great job but tend to break down faster due to the foam deforming and compressing. This will not occur with “the Grid” as it has a PVC pipe like core.
Massage Ball- In this case the ball pictures is the “TP Massage Ball” made by TP Therapy products. It has a soft shell with a semi-rigid core that is designed to compress/deform after ten seconds of pressure which decreases the stiffness of the ball adding to its comfort during therapy. One may use the ball to work on what therapists call “Myofascial Trigger Points” (MFTP) which are tight bands within soft tissue structures that often are rather painful to the touch and create pain, tension and dysfunction throughout a region or muscle. Gently pressing the ball into the MFTP or performing a “pin and stretch” approach are both beneficial depending on the region of the body. Other balls do not compress like the TP massage ball. An example would be a lacrosse ball, and while many believe the “no gain without pain” approach, in this instance I am not a believer. Causing pain during at home soft tissue therapy is NOT the goal. Creating mobility of soft tissues is. Can soft tissue therapy at home be a bit on the painful side? Yup! But, again, it is not the goal.
The Rope- I learned how to utilize a rope during mobilization exercises back in the late 90’s by a massage therapist who had studied under Aaron Mattes who is the “inventor” of the “Active Isolated Stretching” (AIS) method. Contrary to popular belief, using the rope is not to create pain and intense tension in a muscle or other soft tissues. Instead, the premise behind AIS is to have an athlete/patient/client move the body part as far as they can with their own muscular power, WITHOUT PAIN, and then, using the rope or band attached to the body part or region, gently add a few pounds of pressure to “assist” the mobilization and hold the “stretch” for only a few seconds, again NOT CAUSING PAIN, release and then repeat the process finding the new resistance point.
- At home massage tools such as these are NOT a substitute for a qualified health-care professional’s assessment and therapy.
- These tools are to be used as adjunctive therapies or to enhance what your therapist is already doing for you.
- These tools can be used and I have seen them used and used them myself to stave off injury from becoming worse or debilitating.
Yours in health,
For further education on how to use the “Grid” or the “TP Massage Ball” visit