Over the past couple of weeks I’ve added some extra fitness classes to my normal routine of 7-8 a week. I try to step up when I can to help other instructors who may be fighting a bug, out of town for Spring Break, or just can’t teach for some reason. I know I’ll need the help myself so love to jump in when I can. The down side of that is that my body starts talking to me in a not very nice way. The extra work shows up in tight hamstrings and glutes, achey hips and painful piriformis. In other words, I’m limping around.
Overdoing it in a workout is not the only thing that can make your muscles start talking to you. A long car or airplane ride, or sitting at your desk for extended periods can cause severe tightness in the hamstrings and hip flexors. Further, folks hold stress in parts of their bodies that can cause tightness and trigger points to form. Many folks carry their stress in their neck and shoulders while others carry it in their hips. Holding those muscles contracted without allowing them to release and lengthen can cause pain and tightness.
Ordinarily when I start feeling sore and tight I take extra time with the foam roller for relief. The myofascial release from a foam roller is like having your own personal masseuse. Foam rolling before and after a workout, and anytime in between, is such a good habit. I know it’s not always convenient to take the time but it can make all the difference in how you feel and in seeing improvement in your recovery and in your workouts.
Unfortunately, sometimes we need a little more than a foam roller. We might need a good, get to those trigger points, massage. That is one of the best things you can do to take care of yourself! Sometimes that’s just not practical so you have to find a way to give yourself the same benefits of that massage. Enter the . . . lacrosse ball. It is a beautiful thing.
If you are feeling stiff and have some muscle pain that is slowing you down, getting myofascial release with a lacrosse ball can really bring relief. I’m not saying it will feel heavenly while you are actually rolling out those tight and sore spots, but afterwards you will be giving thanks to me.
I was extremely tight this morning. Even stretching was painful. I could not even do a pain free forward fold in yoga. That’s not a good sign when you have to lead others in that simple pose! So, this is what I did. I grabbed one of the Third Son’s lacrosse balls. These are better than tennis balls because they do not give as much. I sat on top of one of our steps with the lacrosse ball under my right hamstring. I let it sit and gritted my teeth for several seconds. Then I bent my knee bending my leg up and down for five reps keeping the ball in place. It eventually began to feel better. Then I moved the ball to different areas up the leg, to the glutes, to the side and around areas allowing different muscles to release and loosen. I repeated the same thing on my left leg. When I stood up I could comfortably reach over and perform that forward fold with my hands flat on the floor. I promise! That lacrosse ball works miracles!!
For me, the trick is to sit on a hard, elevated surface to allow the leg to hang and be able to move around. If you are sitting on the floor, you lose some of that range of motion. This allows you to target those smaller and pretty painful trigger points.
I’ve mentioned trigger points, if that term is not familiar to you, they are myofascial points located on specific sponts on the muscle and tissue that can cause pain right there or at some other point.
A lacrosse ball is great for treating hamstrings, buttocks, hips, shoulders and calves. Lying on your back with the lacrosse ball around the shoulder muscles can help relieve that tightness. I am also known to keep one in my car and sit on it as I drive.
Here are some examples of ways to use that lacrosse ball if you do not have that elevated surface to try and are on the floor.
Keep your muscles feeling good. Keep that tension and tightness away and if you begin feeling that tightness, remember the lacrosse ball can work miracles!
Do you foam roll? Use a lacrosse ball? Have you tried it? Do you love it as much as you hate it?
Enjoy Your Day!