Simple physical therapy tools can heal minor injuries, ease muscle tightness and prevent injuries.
But what do you need and how do you use them? Here’s the 411 for athletes and weekend warriors. Consult with a health care professional before trying one of these tools to make sure you’re using the proper technique, and that the treatment is appropriate and effective for your particular needs.
This is your first line of defense against injury. Use real crushed ice in a traditional bag to reduce inflammation. Ice several times a day for 10 minutes at a time and for troublesome areas, use ice regularly.
Lie on this rigid foam tube and roll your tight quadricep muscles for an amazing deep tissue massage. The foam roller works well on all the muscles of the leg and butt. It’s the preferred tool for those with tight ITBs (iliotibial band). But for extremely tight muscles, the roller might be too painful.
Myofascial Ball/Tennis Ball
This medium size ball is much less rigid (i.e., less painful) than the foam roller and easier to move around due to its shape. It is very effective for tightness in the legs, butt and all parts of your back. A tennis ball is especially effective in the large muscles of the calf.
Night Splint/Foot Roller/Golf Ball
The night splint is a great tool for curing plantar fasciitis and keeping it away. The splint keeps your foot in a flexed position allowing the tissue to stretch and heal properly. Wear it when your plantar fasciitis flares and to prevent reoccurrence. Use the foot roller to massage the fascia on the bottom of your foot. Start in a seated position, with gentle pressure. A golf ball can also be used.
This balance tool encourages a full range of motion in your ankles and strengthens muscles of the foot and ankle. It also develops core muscles and improves proprioception. Use this board to rehabilitate weak ankles or to strengthen muscles and prevent sprains.
This is an amazing portable, massage tool for the legs and the forearm (if you have help from a friend). This flexible device has several rollers that work to provide a deep massage and loosen adhesions in muscle fibers. A must if you work your calves hard.
Use your own body leverage to provide pressure point massage—especially good for hard to reach spots like your back and shoulders.
These tools are widely available at websites like performbetter.com, specialty retailers like Runner’s Edge and even Target. If you deal with the same tight muscle issues year after year, these tools can make a huge difference in your comfort level and performance.