Apr 3, 2017Ready to Roll
By Brittany Risher
Two inexpensive tools can relieve myofascial pain without impairing athletic performance
We all experience pain or soreness from time to time, but for athletes with myofascial pain syndrome, their discomfort is chronic. “Pain in the muscles causes a deep, achy sensation that may feel like the bones or joints are hurting”, says physical therapist Michelle Finnegan. This pain is caused by trigger points, which are tight knots in the muscle. Trigger points are thought to form when blood flow is restricted to the area, such as when performing repetitive movements, exercising with poor form, lifting objects that are too heavy, or even poor posture.
Myofascial pain syndrome can also cause weakness, make the muscles misfire, and even cause numbness, tingling, or feelings of hot and cold running down the extremities. Although myofascial pain syndrome can be difficult to diagnose, versatile and intuitive TheraBand tools for self-massage can help alleviate the pain.
Myofascial rolling tools including the TheraBand Roller Massager+ and the TheraBand Pro Foam Roller have been shown to decrease muscle soreness, and to increase range of motion, all without impairing athletic performance, according to a review of 14 studies published in 2015.
TheraBand Roller Massager+
The TheraBand Roller Massager+ is a multipurpose hand-held tool that rolls out sore and tight muscles. In his research, 5 to 10 seconds of roller massage increased range of motion by 4 to 6 percent, while 20 to 60 seconds of roller massage increased range of motion by 10 to 16 percent without any significant detrimental effect on muscle strength, says David Behm, Ph.D., a university research professor at Memorial University in Newfoundland, Canada.
The ridged design delivers a deep-tissue massage that feels great, while the consistent rolling delivers superior control. This inexpensive tool is made with durable, latex-free thermoplastic material for extended life and easy cleaning.
It’s very simple to use: All you have to do is roll the Roller Massager+ over sore, tight muscles, adjusting the amount of pressure you use to meet the athlete’s needs. “It doesn’t matter if you use light, moderate, or intense pressure—it all has the same positive effects,” Behm says. You can also use the handles to break up really tense trigger points.
The Roller Massager+ can be used to massage any part of the body, including hamstrings, calves, hips, biceps, triceps, neck muscles, and more. If you’re not sure how to target a certain muscle, consult the instruction manual or visit performancehealthacademy.com for exercises.
TheraBand Pro Foam Roller
Another inexpensive, easy-to-use tool to treat myofascial pain is the TheraBand Pro Foam Roller. Simply guide the athlete in rolling out areas that are tender or sore, using as much or as little pressure as feels good to him or her. The Pro Foam Roller comes in three sizes: 36 inches for body parts like the back, 12 inches for body parts like arms and legs, and a half-round foam roller to stretch the feet.
You can also add a TheraBand Foam Roller Wrap to make your foam roller even more versatile. Each wrap easily attaches around the foam roller and stays put as you use the foam roller. The wraps come in four different resistance levels, from light pressure to deep tissue massage. Both the TheraBand Foam Roller and the Foam Roller Wrap also come with photographed instruction manuals.
Which Should You Use?
Both the Roller Massager+ and Pro Foam Roller help relieve myofascial pain, however “the Roller Massager+ allows you to better control the pressure and target more specific areas of a muscle compared to the bigger Pro Foam Roller,” Behm says. The Roller Massager+ is also easier to take when traveling. On the other hand, the Pro Foam Roller is better for areas like back, which would be hard to reach using the Roller Massager+. But whichever you use, your athletes will experience relief and feel better faster.