• Michelle Howell

healthy at home: self-myofascial release

Finding a new normal is the name of the game these days.

Whether your social distancing or quarantining if you're like me you're probably hitting the stage of I need to get AND stay outside phase. At-home gym workouts in your living room are fun for a couple of days, but they don't really feel the same and running on the roads is not the same as the track- trust me road 200-meter repeats are wayyy harder. Yet as we're now approaching the one month mark of social distancing here in Virginia the real aspect of training that's been on my mind isn't training at all, it's recovery, more specifically maintaining it.

Maintenance > rehabilitation

We've all got our own needs when it comes to staying healthy through training. From experience, we learn the things that break our bodies down (short sprints for me), find the things that work to help alleviate that break down (physical and nutritional), and learn the consequences of when we don't do the maintenance and recovery we need.

When it comes to taking recovery seriously it's really a question of whether or not you want to spend the time, energy, and money to prevent possible injury or play the waiting game and then deal with the consequences. For me the answers an obvious one because unfortunately when my body's had enough of being ignored it shuts down pretty quickly. Like any other athlete, my body is the most important part of the equation when it comes to performance so keeping it happy is high on my priorities list during this lockdown.

These days physically preventative recovery practice for me typically includes alternating every other week between a professional sports massage and chiropractic adjustment (both in one week if I'm real banged up), self-maintenance daily of stretching, rolling, the works and if I'm extra tight or immobile I'm a big supporter of acupuncture and dry needling. Social distancing has clearly made this routine harder to mimic at home for obvious reasons. So instead my recovery involves a lot more daily prehab exercises, Epsom salt baths after my harder days, and self-myofascial release. Self-myofascial release, SMR for short, is high on my list because it's been proven to reduce soreness, improve mobility, and help correct muscle imbalances.

You don't need a fancy massage gun to accomplish smr at home or even a traditional foam roller to get the job done. When it comes to myofascial release I've got more than a few tools lying around the apartment.

The fail-proof option

The first thing that should pop into your head when thinking about alleviating sore and tight muscles is the foam roller. It's a standard starter in the athlete's tool kit. They come in a range of sizes, colors, shapes, and price points.

Orange roller is from TriggerPoint, it's gone with me to pretty much every meet since 2014

Blue was gifted to me from Rollga and I love it for my calves and back

The trusty Lax ball

I couldn't tell you the exact point in time I discovered the lax ball, but I can tell you it's changed my life. It might be the greatest thing Lacrosse as a sport has done for the world. This small dense ball is the perfect tool to get deep into tight booties, hips, shoulders, and a plethora of other spots I'm sure if you're creative enough you can find. My personal favorite is using it to roll out glute med and lay on top of it to get into that pesky piriformis

Snag one from your local high school field, chances are there are several looking for a good home laying around

The more advanced option

A harder more pinpoint specific option than the lax ball, the golf ball provides the same benefits, but specifically for those arches. When the lax ball isn't getting it this is the next weapon in your arsenal.

The underappreciated tool

If you've ever owned a pair of spikes chances are you've gathered a small collection of these. At first glance, it's hard to surpass the functional fixedness of the spike tool, but when you think out of the box it's the perfect faux graston tool. Easily held in one's hand with smooth, yet sturdy edges, it's a natural at loosening up tight body parts.

If you're looking for a more "legitimate" version you can check out these options as well

Keep those bodies happy and healthy at home with these tools and check out these easy how-to guide's from Runners World and NASM for more rolling info

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