I would like to show you how you can complement your yoga stretching with self massage techniques. This a great affordable way for you to release any trigger points in your muscles and a great thing to do as part of your warm down after cycling, running, etc. If you want to include it in your home yoga practice, I suggest doing it before your practice as it will help warm your body up.
Why self massage?
Self massage is an excellent complement to stretching. It is a great thing to do if you have especially tight areas and is easy to do. Self massage is an affordable way to get regular massage. I still like to get a good professional massage every now and then but I certainly can’t afford to get a massage every day and sometimes that’s what a tight muscle needs.
You can use a foam roller
The easiest way to massage the legs is with a foam roller, you can buy these cheaply online. As a big fan of self massage I have invested in The Grid Foam Roller. Which is a bit more expensive but smaller and longer lasting and I prefer it to my regular foam roller which eventually got worn down.
What is a foam roller?
A foam roller is a roll of foam that you roll up and down on, you may have seen one down the gym. In fact if you are a member of a gym you could have a go of there’s so you can see what you think. You roll up and down on it and when you find tight, painful spots you can either stay still for a minute or you can cross friction it gently rocking back and forth.
How do I massage my hamstrings?
To massage your hamstring roll up and down on the back of your thigh. You have three hamstrings muscles. To get all 3 of them you need to rotate the leg in and out, as well as rolling on the bottom your thigh. If you find a tight spot stop and use yoga breathing to help ease into it and relax, stay for one minute. You can control the amount of weight you put onto it if it’s really tight, don’t over do it. Spend about 5 minutes on each leg, a once a day if you need it or after a run, etc. Here is a picture of one of my students who uses the foam roller every day.
How you can learn more about self massage
You can also use a ball for self massage to get a little deeper, I find sitting on a chair useful for this. Athletes Treating Athletes is an excellent resource for you to learn how to do this for yourself with some great videos. Their is a wealth of such videos on you tube, the athletes treating athletes resource is by far the most informative, I have found and is ran by a physiotherapist who is also an athlete. You can see her video for the hamstrings, below. If you want to learn more about this topic and learn how to self massage yourself, I can also recommend The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment for Pain Relief (Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief)
In part one of how to open up your hamstrings, I explained why you should stretch them and gave explained how to do a great yoga pose which is excellent choice for safely stretching out your hamstrings. I have even more to share with you about hamstrings! Stay tuned for part 3……..
Have you been practicing the stretch I suggested in part one? How is it going for you? Do you use self massage to complement your stretching?