There was a time when recovery was thought to be simply resting and a little stretching if you were really ambitious. However, as sports science has improved and research as gone deeper and deeper into the physiological effects of training, recovery has taken a turn into more complex techniques.
For example, it has become very apparent that when you are putting muscles under tension, that tension will remain in your fibers long after you are done exercising. Additionally, when something is out of whack in a joint, the surrounding muscles will compensate in order to try and put things back into place (like when you biceps tendon is strained from training and your rotator cuff holds significant tension to keep your tendon from tearing). All of this leads to muscle pain and tightness as a result of training.
When muscles are under tension for extended periods of time, they essentially need to be “reset” so that they will relax. The most effective way to do this is to apply direct pressure to the knot in the muscle. Applying pressure causes the muscle to tense up even more, using up all of the oxygen stores available. Once the muscle has been under tension long enough, it is effectively starved of oxygen and has no choice but to relax. Sounds easy enough, right?
But what about in areas where you cannot directly apply pressure with your hands, like around your shoulder blade or on your lower back. For a long time, the only way to relieve this tension was to have a trainer do direct pressure on the areas of tension in order to cause the tension to release. If you did not have access to a trainer, then you would have to pay for massages. This would add up very quickly.
Thankfully, there are some products on the market that I use regularly that allow me to target these areas of tension. Utilizing these products has been a game-changer for me as it has alleviated a great deal of on-going pain and discomfort. I wanted to take some time and discuss these products so that you decide if there is a need in your gear bag for these products as well.
Addaday Peanut Roller
The benefits of foam rolling have been well documented. However, one of the glaring deficiencies of a foam roller is the very large surface area that makes it nearly impossible to target hard to reach areas that consistently create issues.
The Peanut Roller from Addaday directly answers this issue while being small enough to fit in your hand. It is shaped like a peanut to allow for direct pressure on very small areas. Additionally, the shape allows for the roller to apply pressure on parts of your body that are not flat (i.e., your groin/hip flexor area, your lower back on each side of your spine, etc.). I have some issues with my lower back, right shoulder, and hip flexors and the Peanut Roller has helped to alleviate much of these issues.
This video from Robert Forster shows the versatility and usefulness of the Peanut Roller:
Addaday specializes in all sorts of various rolling massagers that are intended for specific purposes. They have an option for every person and every part of your body. Check out all of their offerings here: Addaday.com
Thera Cane Massager
The Thera Cane looks funky, but is worth its weight in gold. Sometimes you need to be able to apply direct pressure on areas that nothing else can reach… Noting else except the Thera Cane. I have a spot on the face of my right shoulder blade just below where my right arm and shoulder meet; it creates a lot of problems for me around my shoulder blade. By placing firm pressure on it with the hook of my Thera Cane, that spot releases and I get relief from the pain.
The shepherd’s hook on the end has a molded ball to allow for you to place pressure on a small area. Additionally, the strategic location of the handles allows you to hook it either over you shoulder or under your arm in order to get just the right angle on whatever area of tension you are working on.
Additionally, the other knobs on the Thera Cane can be used for applying direct pressure to areas on the front of your body. This is a very versatile and useful tool. Do a google search for images and videos related to techniques for using the Thera Cane.
This is a great tool that comes highly recommended by physical therapists all over the world Check it out here: Thera Cane
If you were to take these two items (totaling less than $50 between the two of them) and spend 30 minutes a day working various problem areas, you would find that your chronic pain is reduced, you’ll feel better, and have increased mobility. To me, it is totally worth it buy both of these products.