Foam Rolling (& Other Self-Care Tools) v. Massage Therapy
I cannot tell you how many of my clients have raved about the benefits of using self-care tools between their bodywork sessions to help keep the pain away, massage away tension when it first starts to creep back in. It helps them stay active, mobile, and also, helps me provide quicker relief to the stubborn knots my clients might struggle with. Self-care tools also empower my clients to take proactive steps in keeping their body in tip-top shape, so naturally, as a therapist, I love that my clients are active participants in our therapeutic relationship.
There are plenty of tools that you can use to help yourself feel better in between massage appointments. There are foam rollers, therapy canes, electronic devices providing percussion or vibration, and balls of all kinds. You’ll see ways to use tennis, golf, racquet, and lacrosse balls for massage purposes.
These can be great to have at home, at work, or when you travel. They can help ease some pain when you can’t get in for a massage. Life events pop up and make it difficult to squeeze a massage into your schedule at times.
Massage is a great part of your plan for taking care of yourself, but of course it can’t be the only thing. It makes sense to have other activities and some tools to keep you feeling good regularly. For example rolling your sore and tired feet on a golf ball for a few minutes feels wonderful - and it helps get you up off the couch and moving again.
before you ditch your massage therapist completely, there are some things to consider…
Your tool does only one action. Most just compress your muscles. But that’s not all you need to feel better. In a massage your muscles are pulled, squeezed, kneaded, and stretched as well as being compressed. One tool isn’t the solution to everything. Hammers are good - for hammering. When you need to paint, drill a hole, or tighten a nut they are not nearly as useful.
Tools are not are educated in how your body works. Your tool won’t know when to stop and your muscles may get overworked. Working in some areas of your body can be dangerous and may cause serious problems.
obviously you want to feel better, not worse afterwards.
Massage therapists have also learned about how much pressure to use and how best to work on a muscle. They can evaluate the progress and change the pressure or try a different technique. They may move you into different positions to change the angle to reach a muscle more effectively.
Some tools may require you to get on the floor or bend a certain way. This can be a challenge to some who are lacking in mobility or agility.
pain can be tricky…
You may feel the pain in one area but the real source can be somewhere else. If you only address where you feel the pain you will just treat the symptom and the pain will return. A massage therapist can often track down the source and help address the real problem.
There’s more to a massage than just working on your muscles. You get personal attention, listened to, and cared for. Your body and mind can both relax as you let go of your responsibilities for a while.
Tools for use at home can provide some nice benefits in between massages. Most of us enjoy saving money but when we need something important done correctly we pay a professional.