If It Hurts Just Put Your Balls On It! – Part II

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In my last post I went over the basics of what self-myofascial release (SMR) was and how it is basically the second coming of sliced bread, or the ill nana when it comes to helping you get more flexible and cure some little aches, pains, and dysfunctions. If you’re lost, check out the intro post here.

When it comes to SMR most people are familiar with working on their lower body, often the glutes, hamstrings, quads, and even the dreaded IT bands. This isn’t very comfortable but it’s totally awesome for recovery. Since that stuff is widely available, I’m not going to focus on those areas. Today I’m going to cover how to work on a couple of spots that don’t see as much love from the typical gym rat but may be the spots that are holding you back.

First off, there’s one universal problem area that affects almost anyone that sits too much (most of America) or is a big, wide-stanced squatter: Tight hip flexors.

Rolling the Hip Flexors: Coinciding with weak and inactive glutes is tight hip flexors. This combination can really result in back pain as it can create what’s called Anterior Pelvic Tilt, which is where to front of the pelvis is tipped forward and the lower back is compressed. This results in the “bubble butt” pose you see a lot of people walk around with and is easily identified if someone’s belt buckle is lower than the back of their belt.

As I said, it creates a lot of pressure on the lower back and is bad news.

Chronically tight hip flexors are one of the primary culprits in creating APT and they can be pretty tough to loosen up. Rolling them out with a foam roller or, even better, a ball before stretching them can go a long way towards proper hip flexor function and dramatically less back pain.

So excessive tightness in the hip flexors can put compressive forces on the back and cause all kinds of problems, but what if the trouble is coming from somewhere else? If you’re tight in the hamstrings and calves (again, most of America) this can result in these tight muscles pulling on the lower back and causing more pain! Just like a drunk freshman girl at a frat party, it’s gonna get ya coming and going. In this case the culprits can often be traced ALL the way down…

Rolling the Feet: Most people don’t realize how many little muscles there are along the bottom of the feet and how tight their feet are. Cramming them into poorly designed shoes all day can result in tremendous shortening of the musculature of the feet and some pretty aggressive trigger points. This can end up causing problems all up and down the body as we talked about above with the calves and hamstrings.

Happy feet right there, baby.

To roll out the feet simply get a tennis ball and place it on the ground. Sit or stand over it and roll it all along the bottom of your feet. You should find some sensitive points to give some extra care to! As opposed to the normal discomfort of most SMR techniques, this one usually feels awesome (unless your feet are totally jacked). If anyone gives you any shit for groaning, moaning, and maybe even drooling like a mental patient on a handful of mickeys while doing this then just tell them to try it and they’ll soon understand.

I’ll be back with some tips and tricks for doing SMR on the upper body. In the meantime give these two techniques a try and drop a note below with your results!

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