One of the easiest and most effective means to ensure the healthy rebuilding of the body in between workouts is to use self-massage techniques. All you need is a few minutes each day along with some useful tools that include a foam roller, rolling stick, lacrosse ball, and golf ball.
Why Tissue Maintenance is Important
Collagen is a protein found in connective tissues in the body. And connective tissues are found everywhere, including the tendons that connect muscles to bones, the fasciae that surround muscle groups, and the endomysium that surrounds individual muscle cells.
When collagen fibers run parallel, like straws in a box, everything works the way it should. Muscles can contract without obstructions and tissues are able to withstand the stress loads placed upon them through physical activity. But the simple fact is that training breaks down the body. If it didn’t, there would be no opportunity to grow stronger through positive adaptations during the rebuilding phase.
As long as the tissues heal properly, then mobility is maintained and the body can continue to function at a high level of performance. But complete tissue rebuilding can take up to a few weeks while training takes place on an ongoing basis. That means there are ample opportunities for tissues to rebuild in a less than effective manner. Instead of the collagen fibers lining up in parallel like straws in a box, the fibers begin to look more like a pile of straws arranged in a haphazard fashion. This is when adhesions, scars or trigger points begin to develop. The key to ensuring healthy tissues is to be proactive with self-massage.
How to Maintain Healthy Tissues
The key to ensuring healthy tissues is to dedicate a few minutes each day to preventive care. A daily check-in with your body will keep the tissues healthy and allow you to notice trigger points when they first begin to develop so you can eliminate them before they get worse. This preventive tissue work is made easy with a few readily available tools.
The first tool is a foam roller, which is a cylinder made of dense foam. Foam rollers are about 5-6 inches in diameter and a foot or more in length. A foam roller works well for targeting larger areas, such as the back, quads, hamstrings, calves, and the IT band.
Complementary to the foam roller is a rolling massage stick, which can make it easy to target certain areas, such as the calves, the front of the lower leg, the neck, IT band, quads and hamstrings.
For smaller areas on the body where more targeted pressure is needed, a lacrosse ball is the tool of choice. The lacrosse ball can be used pinpoint trigger points or trouble spots, such as in the lower back, buttocks or hips.
And a golf ball is indispensable for the bottom of the feet to keep the plantar fasciae healthy and happy. And it also can be used to strengthen the muscles in the feet as you grip it, pick it up and move it around.
Recommended tools for healthy tissue maintenance: