Massage sticks also known as recovery sticks or muscle roller sticks are great for deep-tissue self-massaging for pre and post-workout muscle recovery. They are particularly good for the leg area. The massage stick is easily portable and can fit in your kit bag or overnight bag.
Massage sticks come in a wide variety of designs. It is important to make sure that you choose a high quality massage stick which is nice and firm. Some of the cheaper models can bend in your hands and therefore not provide the sufficient resistance required to do the job properly.
Here is a guide as to why you should use a massage stick and how to get the best from your massage stick.
WHY USE A MASSAGE STICK?
After doing leg based physical activity such as a squats, football, running or cycling it is normal for your legs to experience soreness. This discomfort is referred to as delayed onset muscle soreness or (DOMS) which are small microscopic tears in the muscles caused by contractions in the muscle through exercise. These muscles can also get tight and inflamed which causes the pain. Also tight and sore muscles do not function properly.
The massage stick allows you to apply controlled pressure to those sore muscle groups and surrounding connected tissue. The rollers on the massage stick travel over the leg and get deep into the tissue. This can increase blood flow to that area and help to release knots or trigger points in the muscles and surrounding fascia. It also provides that nice feeling of release or good pain.
HOW TO USE A MASSAGE STICK?
The massage stick really comes into its own when it comes to leg recovery. The key difference between a massage stick and a foam roller or massage trigger ball is that you apply the pressure of the massage stick with your own arms rather than with your body weight. This means that you can control the pressure more easily than you can with your body weight you can also easily and quickly move around targeting different parts and trigger points in your leg.
You can use a massage stick to target many different pressure points in your legs including the quad muscle, iliotibial band (IT band), hamstrings and the shin area. Make sure to listen to your body and focus on those areas that feel tender but not excessively sore. If you experience excessive pain avoid using the massage stick in that area.
For the Quad muscle sit on the floor and simply apply downward pressure on the massage stick rolling it up and down your quad muscle. As it is a large muscle you can break the quad down into three sections starting with the outer section of the quad then moving to the centre of the quad and finally the inner quad. As you get used to it and the quad begins to relax you can start to apply increasing downward pressure.
The IT band is a long piece of connective tissue or fascia that runs along the outside of your leg from the hip to the knee. It can get tight and sore following exercise. To massage the IT band with the massage stick stay sitting on the floor and apply downward pressure on the massage stick rolling it up and down the IT band.
Although the massage stick is best for the quads and the IT band you can also use it to target pressure points in the hamstrings and the outer shin area.
Now you know why you should consider investing in a massage stick!