There are so many options out there when it comes to tools for maintaining healthy tissue in your body. Maybe too many options … it’s hard to know which is best for what condition or how to get the optimal results for your body. So I have put together a list of my favorite tools for self-care and some of the best ways to use them.
1. Foam Roller – I use two different levels of firmness depending on what my body needs on any given day. One is medium density (1a – Balanced Body, soft roller; $39) and the other is super soft and squishy (1b – OPTP, Soft roller; $36). If you are new to foam rolling, I recommend choosing the softest one – it is the best option for achieving releases in the fascial tissues.
Energized Legs: Lie down with the foam roller under the front of your thighs and your upper body propped up on your elbows; roll up and down the length of the quadriceps from the hip to the knee. Move slow and hold at any sticky spots.
2. 4-inch inflatable ball – This is another great tool for releasing stuck tissue. This works best when you want to target a specific area of restriction. Keep the ball only partially inflated so it conforms to your body and will allow the tissue to soften into it. (Sportime: about $8 on Amazon.com)
Mobile Hips: While sitting on the floor, place the ball under one glute near the outer hip, move your body so the ball moves closer to your sacrum. Roll back and forth in that direction for a few minutes, then you can switch to moving in a half circle around the hip joint. Again, holding and softening into any restricted areas.
3. Roller stick – There are many different roller stick options on the market; I use the Tiger Tail stick (3a) and The Stick (3b). (both are around $30 on Amazon.com) Uses are similar to the foam roller, but you might find it more convenient – you can use it while sitting or standing and it is easier to control the amount of pressure. I find it perfect for rolling out the calf muscles.
Calm Calves: Get into a position where your calf muscles are relaxed (either sitting or standing), and roll the stick up and down slowly over the belly of the muscle. Try rolling at different angles and follow-up with some stretching.
4. Stretch strap – Using a strap to assist with stretching creates the ability for the rest of your body to relax, allowing for a more effective stretch to the targeted area. (OPTP Stretch Out Strap; $18) There are many types of straps you can use for stretching – yoga straps are a great option also. This is my go-to tool for hamstring and inner thigh stretching.
Healthy Hamstrings: Lie on your back and place your feet in the loops (or only put one foot in and keep the other leg bent with the foot on the floor). Now, keep your thighs vertical to the ground and your tailbone down slightly, start to straighten your legs (or leg) until you begin to feel a stretch. Keep your tailbone down to keep the stretch targeting your hamstrings and not coming into your low back. Keep the stretch gentle and hold for a couple of minutes.
5. Small 2-inch balls – These balls are the perfect size and softness for rolling out the tissues of the hands and feet. (OPTP Min and Maxi Balls; $6–8/pair) Works wonders for the feet by increasing sensory input and mobility, which in-turn impacts how your legs and back feel.
Happy Feet: In standing or while sitting in a chair, place one foot on top of the ball and press down gently. Roll your foot back and forth from the heel to the ball of the foot – pressure should not be painful, but enough to feel your foot sink into the ball. Roll your foot in circles, roll on the outside of the sole, roll side-to-side over the ball of the foot from big toe to pinky toe. Try using your hand to roll the ball over the top of your foot.
So there you have it – many options to help you take care of your body so it can take care of you! All of these tools are extremely versatile and can be used for the entire body. If you have questions about how to use them or need help deciding which might be best for you, give me a call or comment below. Always love hearing from you!