- Improved blood flow to the treated area which rids the tissue of post exercise byproducts
- Decreased healing time
- Improved range of motion of the tissue(s) in question
- Performance enhancements!
On many occasions athletes find a "best" time for self-care through trial and error but in general a gentle pressure and tension placed on the tissue by a foam roller, tiger tail or very gentle use of the balls can help muscle(s) prepare prior to or directly after a sport specific warm up.(1,3)
After your workout/race the best way to speed recovery is an active recovery cool down. Even this has been shown to be more important post-race/training than massage has ever shown. (3) Once you have performed your cool down it is prudent to work on your body using the mentioned devices but at this time a bit more aggressive approach can be attempted using the massage ball (more on this at on another date) or a foam roller. After your cool-down and self myo-fascial release, stretching (in many forms) can be very effective at improving range of motion and returning tissue to pre-training/race status and prepping for further battle or even to simply function optimally in activities of daily living.
Below is an example of self-care procedures that ANY athlete can and should employ prior to running and as a recovery tool to help prepare the body for the next training session as well as to treat tissues of the body which are tight, stiff, sore and in need of continued TLC when seeing your health-care provider is not convenient. See below for an easy to follow self-care program for the LOWER BODY (*upper body to come). Enjoy and please remember, if your foam roller hasn't gotten it by now, it never will :). If an injury has taken you out of the game and your self-care protocol has turned into self-treatment it may be time to seek out professional help.
#1- Foam Roller for the calf- Active (1-2 minutes each making sure to roll the entire calf not just the tight feeling portions)
#2 Foam Roller- Hamstring (1-2 minutes each)
#3 Foam Roller- Glutes (1-2 minutes each side)
#4 Foam Roller- Adductors (1-2 minutes each side
#5 Foam Roller- Quadriceps (1-2 minutes each side)
#6 Foam Roller- Tibialis Anterior and extensor tendons/Shin muscles (1-2 minutes each side)
1) An acute bout of self-myofascial release increases range of motion without a subsequent decrease in muscle activation or force. MacDonald GZ, Penney MD, Mullaley ME, Cuconato AL, Drake CD, Behm DG, Button DC. J Strength Cond Res. 2013 Mar;27(3):812-21
2) Massage therapy attenuates inflammatory signaling after exercise-induced muscle damage. Crane JD, Ogborn DI, Cupido C, Melov S, Hubbard A, Bourgeois JM, Tarnopolsky MA. Department of Kinesiology, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Sci Transl Med. 2012 Feb 1;4(119):119
3) Acute effects of massage or active exercise in relieving muscle soreness: Randomized controlled trial. Andersen LL, Jay K, Andersen CH, Jakobsen MD, Sundstrup E, Topp R, Behm DG. J Strength Cond Res. 2013 Mar 21.