One thing I have a habit of neglecting is mobility, which is not good, since the whole point of getting fit is to feel good. When I talk about mobility, I’m talking about dealing with muscle tightness, fascial adhesions, and the whole whack of problems that keep you from moving as freely and as comfortable as you can.
Here are some of my favorite tools:
- A good registered massage therapist. Not the person who rubs nice-smelling stuff all over you at the spa while you relax to soothing music, but a proper massage therapist who knows what trigger points and adhesions are. Even if you don’t go to him or her regularly, your massage therapist can teach you where you tend to tighten up, what it feels like when you work your bad spots (sometimes it burns like hell), and some ways to address the problems. I always ask mine what specific muscles he’s working on so I can look them up in my books.
- The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook. Overworked muscles often form tight little knots called trigger points that can refer pain all over your body. This book shows the patterns of pain and other symptoms, and describes how to treat them. Once you know what they feel like, though, you can just go searching for them with a tennis ball (see below).
- Stretching Anatomy. Bob Anderson’s book Stretching is a classic, but Stretching Anatomy is more technical. If you really want to know how your body’s put together, and how to vary your stretches to get at just the right muscle or intensity, this is the book for you. The whole Anatomy series (Yoga Anatomy, Strength Training Anatomy, Running Anatomy) is great this way.
- MobilityWOD. Short for Mobility Workout of the Day, this site (and the videos!) point out a lot of ways to address nasty mobility issues. It’s slightly heavy on the testosterone, but if you can get past that, the information is good.
- Inflatable balls. Miracle Balls are cheap, fairly easy to find (I’ve seen them at Costco and Chapters) and come with an instruction booklet. The booklet’s ok, but once you get the hang of it, you figure out what to do. Just lie on them and relax.
- Foam roller. Sportcheck carries these now. Many sites explain how or have videos on how to use them. Sensations vary from enjoyably to deeply painful, but if it hurts, it needs work.
- Balls. Tennis balls, racquetballs, etc. Same thing. Vary the size and the hardness to get a comfortable amount of pressure. The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook illustrates how to pin balls against a floor or wall to get at many different spots.