Updated: Oct 8
Stress, fatigue, long days of sitting and killer workouts can lead to tight muscles and an increase in overall body tension. What can you do? Stretch! Myofascial Release Techniques to the rescue! Myofascial Release is a hands on method that involves applying gentle and sustained pressure to an area of the body, such as foam rolling or using a massage stick on your quads or hamstrings.
Reducing muscular tension by stretching and rolling techniques such as this are an important part of a fitness routine, enabling healthy range of motion, flexibility, balance and coordination all while reducing muscle soreness. That means you can get back to living and feeling well faster!
Take your stretching to the next level with the help of these supportive fitness tools: Foam rollers
These handy tools gained popularity by runners who discovered a great way to combat tight IT bands, but they can do so much more. There are many types on the market, the standard being about 3" in diameter and 36" in length. Their simple foam construction provides a smooth yet sturdy surface that is able to maintain shape regardless of the amount of weight put upon it, making it a truly invaluable partner to any stretching routine! By strategically rolling your body weight in targeted areas you are able to increase blood flow and circulation to soft tissue areas - key to breaking up tension and improving elasticity. Personally using a foam roller took my stretching to a whole other level, enabling me to release tension in my quads, hamstrings, shoulders, IT band, glutes and even low back! Foam rollers are also ideal for targeting those areas that are harder to reach on your own with traditional massage sticks and/or rollers.
Swiss balls (sometimes called yoga balls) a great low impact and minimally invasive way to loosen tight muscles. We all have heard how great they are in place of an office chair for encouraging proper posture, now you have another great reason to love them - their stretching abilities! Lay with your back over the ball and arms outstretch, hands reaching toward the ground and you have a shoulder, pec and upper back stretch all in one or sit on the ball and gently rock the pelvis side to side then front to back and you have a great low back stretch.
Massage sticks and/or rollers
Give yourself a deep tissue massage! You are able to control the pressure by deciding how hard you choose to press the stick on those tight areas of the body. Some sticks come smooth and others contain balls with soft pressure point spikes to help increase blood flow by massaging the surrounding tissues and muscle. I find these especially helpful for tight quads, hamstrings and even IT bands!
Cost effective and so easy to keep on hand - throw one in your work bag, car or suitcase that it'll make the perfect on-the-go stretching partner! You can use it like you would a foam roller to massage those tight areas of the body, but the bonus with a tennis ball is you can also use it standing up! Try placing it between you and the wall to get to those hard to reach areas, such as the small of your back, glutes or between the shoulders.
Note - for your health safety stretching should always be performed when the muscles are warm, ideally post exercise or after a light warm up. If you have been in a static position for any length of time, such as sitting at a desk or driving in the car, engage in a quick warm-up activity that will promote healthy blood flow in order to sufficiently warm the muscles before beginning a stretching routine.
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