April is all about Recovery and in this series we will be discussing all kinds of different ways and tools you can utilize to better increase your recovery cycles, especially since you've been working hard these last few months on that New Years resolution right?
Undoubtedly, in some time in your life you've felt the urge to stretch something or be in need for a massage. In relation to training and being sore, you have definitely felt the need to foam roll or stretch since being introduced to it.
So when is a good time to stretch or foam roll to help improve recovery?
Like any good coach will tell you, it depends. To find out how to implement let's discover what each one does for you.
Static Stretching - "Self Stretching" This is done on your own utilizing your own power to position yourself or pull on yourself to get a stretch. Examples would be laying on your back with a yoga strap on your foot to get a hamstring stretch or standing with your arm against a wall getting a pec stretch.
Passive Stretching - "Assisted Stretching" This is done with another person who manually manipulates your body to achieve the desired stretch effect.
Foam Rolling - Soft tissue manipulation done on your own with a tool such as a foam roller, tiger stick or triggerpoint balls.
Massage Therapy - Soft tissue work done by a licenced practitioner such as a Massage Therapist.
When it comes time to decide what modality to choose, it’s best to do a quick self evaluation.
Painful to the touch?
Don’t foam roll, a massage may be ok since you can relax a lot more and the therapist will be able to increase blood flow without causing too much pain.
About to workout?
Foam rolling is usually the best practice before a workout, focus on rolling out the areas that you will be utilizing so you can utilize the ranges of motion you’re unlocking by doing soft tissue work. This is great for improving performance.
Muscles are tight?
Check to see if you have your normal range of motion, if you do then there is no need to stretch. You’re likely experiencing a knot so soft tissue work will be far superior here to work out those knots and improve overall muscle glide that will get rid of that “tight” feeling. If you don’t have full range, then stretch the area by holding a stretch for at least 2 minutes per position. This takes time so be patient.
It’s always a good idea to have a normal stretching or soft tissue work routine to keep your body working at its best. By the time you’re in pain, it’s already too late, so be proactive and treat the issue before it’s an issue. If you’re not in any pain for a massage, good, that’s the point, get massaged anyways, foam roll anyways, stretch anyways.
When should I utilize a professional for stretching or soft tissue?
If it is within your means, do it with a professional as often as you can as a part of your lifestyle. Utilizing a professional will give you a better understanding of your own body with the feedback they give you. Ask questions, that’s what they are there for and when you discover what your trouble areas are, you can do maintenance work on it yourself till your next appointment.
I don’t know how to stretch or foam roll.
Get with someone who can show you how. Oftentimes things seem easy enough when you see it, but doing it requires a lot of attention to detail and the ability to decipher what is a good pain or a bad pain that will get you to your desired result. A few sessions with a pro will leave you with a lifetime understanding of how to take care of your body.