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Whether you’re in the gym, training for an event, spend 90% of your time staring at a computer screen or stressed out to the max, we know that it's important to take some time out of our busy day to seek physical therapy to keep us feeling at our best. But sometimes we just don’t have the time to book an appointment to see a therapist to work out all the knots. Plus, it can get pricey. So what can you do when you can’t make regular visits to your clinic? Here are 5 DIY ways to treat yourself!
1. Foam roller
Foam rollers are magical! They’re super versatile and easy to use on numerous muscle groups, the most common being the back, quads, hamstrings and calves. Keep in mind that this a slow, stretching process.
Lay on the roller, knees bent. Starting at your lower back, slowly roll back and forth and make your way up to the mid back and neck area. If you find you're really locked up in a particular area, don’t be afraid to hang out there and let it release.
You can also turn the roller vertically and lay with it running up and down your spine. Open your arms out and feel the stretch in your pecs!
Hamstrings and Calves:
Rolling one leg at a time, start by placing the roller at the top of the muscle. Walk yourself backwards and forwards on your hands to move the roller up and down your leg. Shift your weight to either side to target different muscles.
Turn over into a push up or plank position and again place the roller at the top of the quads. Walking on your hands, rock the foam roller up and down your quads. Again, shift your weight to target inside, mid and outside of the area.
2. Spikey ball
Spikey balls are great for getting in deeper and more direct on to trigger points (hypertonic or 'tight' bands of muscle, or, ‘knots’). On the ground, simply find the tight spot, place the ball under your body and use your weight to deliver pressure to the area. Sustained pressure over a short time disperses the tension and the muscle begins to relax. You can also roll on the ball to target a larger area with many trigger points. Great for glutes.
Resembling dinosaur teeth, Pocketphysio’s are brilliant for getting even deeper and more direct on to that one point that you just can’t reach! As with a spikey ball, just find the trigger point and use your body weight to apply pressure. This also works well if you stand up and place it against a wall. You can really get in to the shoulder blade and neck area! You can use these tools for anywhere up to 10 mins on just the one spot. Everyone reacts differently to treatment, so a trigger point that takes 5 minutes to release for me, may only take 30 seconds for you, listen to your body!
4. Heat and Ice
Excluding acute injuries, heat or ice can be used at any time to decrease pain and tension. This can be in the form of heat/ice pack or creams/sprays. What to use is really a case of personal preference. Some people prefer the soothing qualities of heat to loosen up a tight area for pain relief, while others respond better to the pain inhibiting qualities of ice.
5. Thrifty Therapist:
While all of these tools are great for self-treating, you might not have them when you need them. But there are some substitutes!
Laying on two towels rolled up inside each other may give a gentle stretch of the back, or you can try lying on a Swisse exercise ball.
Don’t have a spikey ball? Try a cricket, lacrosse or baseball or if you’re really clever, tape together two tennis balls side by side and place either side of your spine to get a deeper treatment.
One of my personal favourites is to lean against the corner of a table or wall to treat! Awesome for glutes, lower back, mid back and shoulder blade areas.
Are you the next Tiger Woods? Great! Use a golf ball to massage your feet after a long day. Just sit on the couch with the ball on the floor and roll away! This also loosens up your calves and hamstrings as they’re all connected, so two birds with one ball!
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