For my 30th birthday, a friend of mine gifted me this book you see on the right and it’s the best book that I’ve ever had the pleasure of following.
This book is a godsend. It basically shows you all the things your doctor or physical therapist would probably be scared shitless of recommending you to do because it recommends brute techniques to deal with softening your hardened tissues and restore range of motion. And guess what, it works. It’s helped me increase my flexibility and restoring full mobility on typically tight spots like my calves and hips. It’s the ultimate in freeing up soft tissue.
- My hips have always been the tightest joint in my body. I could never go into the yogic “happy baby” without my lower back coming up. I’ve seen more progress in this regards than ever before.
- When I squat, my ankle dorsiflexion sucks (and so does yours probably) and the techniques presented have helped me open up that capsule.
- My right elbow can’t reach full extension due to a cycling accident from years ago. I thought this was going to be a permanent structural issue but I’m actually able to slowly but surely restore full extension.
The mobility tools to help you become… a supple leopard.
After you get the book, you’ll soon realize that you are going to need a few tools to be able to make full use of the book. I’ll try to provide some options for you.
First and foremost, an aggressive foam roller is priceless
Foam rollers are incredible at getting rid of our muscle knots in major areas of your body: Most notably the upper back, thighs and calves. Even if you do yoga everyday and think you don’t have knots in your upper back, trust me, you do. If you ride a bicycle or run, your quads, IT band and calves are probably so knotted up you will cry… and then afterwards your knees and legs will thanks you for releasing all that tension and creating slack in the system!
So which one to get? Forget the plain-jane foam rollers. Those foam rollers, while they are inexpensive, don’t really dig deep enough to release trigger points and resolve muscle knots. In the beginning they feel like they’re working, but they become useless really fast and you’ll be wishing you spent a little more money on a more aggressive one.
Some aggressive foam rollers include:
- TriggerPoint Therapy: This is an excellent foam roller and recommended whether you’re a beginner or professional athlete. All the little ridges act like fingers so it’s like a deep tissue massage. Yes it’s going to hurt so good if you’ve never foam rolled before but will also keep experienced people maintained. I like this also because you can take it traveling with you and stuff clothes or your yoga mat in it as well since it is hollow inside.
- Rumble Roller: I’ve tried this and I was expecting it to be much more intense than the above one because of the spikes. But honestly I wasn’t impressed by it that much. It’s still good, but I’m not sure it’s worth the extra cost. You can’t go wrong with either one.
- PVC Pipe: Go to your local hardware store, get a PVC pipe, and tape a section of a cheap yoga mat over it for some cushion and voila, you just made yourself a ridiculously unforgiving tool for releasing soft tissue.
Want more info about foam rolling? Read my post on how to get rid of muscle knots.
Lacrosse Balls are up there, along with the foam rollers in how effective they are at getting rid of knots. While foam rollers are able to tackle broad areas, lacrosse balls are able to target very specific areas and can be much more intense.
Examples of things lacrosse balls are very effective at releasing that foam rollers aren’t:
- Feet: Rolling the bottom of your foot over a lacrosse ball will release all the fascia from underneath like nothing else.
- Hamstrings: When you’re sitting on a chair (like now), you could just stick a lacrosse ball underneath your thighs and just let those babies loosen up. Nobody would even know that you have a ball under there.
- Between the shoulder blades: Sometimes there is nothing greater than rolling your traps over a lacrosse ball on the wall. It gets to those tight spots in between the shoulder blades like nobody’s business.
- Forearms and Triceps: Place the ball on the desk in front of you and just roll your forearms and triceps all over the lacrosse ball and feel the madness of all that release in your woefully neglected soft tissues.
- You need only one for single use everywhere
- In the book they tape two together specifically for the thoracic spine.
- Alternative: Tennis balls. But tennis balls are very soft and collapse easily and only get softer the more you roll over them. There really is no comparison but if you have a tennis ball laying around, you could at least start with that until the lacrosse ball comes in the mail.
This is an extremely unorthodox technique that works wonders. It requires wrapping a band around a joint extremely tight, like a tourniquet, and then moving the joint around. The result is an incredible reduction in swelling, restoration of sliding surfaces and overall freedom in the end range of motion. This is exactly what helped me become completely pain free from my “tennis elbow.” The only problem is it often requires the aid of another person to do the wrapping for the elbow and shoulder. But other parts can be wrapped like the wrist and calves by yourself so you could go to town on them everyday.
The following are the products that can all do the job, so just choose one of them:
- Voodoo Band: This is the band recommended by Kelly Starrett, as of course, it’s his product.
- Thera-band: I use these therabands to do my voodoo flossing and for all sorts of other prehab type work as the resistance is not extreme.
- Dyna-Band: This is a cheaper alternative to the Thera-Band. I believe thera-band charges more because they have a well known name and could charge more because of their brand name.
- Bicycle Tube: Even a bicycle tube would work fine for the voodoo floss techniques. So if you have an old bicycle tube that you thought was trash, you can use it for voodoo flossing!
Band work / capsule
These are incredibly strong bands. The theraband or voodoo floss bands above don’t hold a candle to them. And they can be used not only for increasing range of motion but also using it for assistance for bodyweight exercises to boot!
- Medium Resistance, 75lb green band. This band is excellent and it’s the only one I personally use because it’s perfect for the mobility work AND my exercise stuff such as band-assisted muscle ups, band-assisted pull overs and band-assisted tuck planches.
The book sometimes says to do the smashing/rolling over techniques with a barbell. Like instead of rolling your triceps (or pecs) over the lacrosse ball, roll it over a barbell. I don’t have a barbell though. Instead you could buy a PVC pipe. In the book he also suggests using a wine bottle, which I frankly don’t recommend because I can imagine it breaking easily. A thick beer bottle feels safer. Or you could fill a 2 liter soda bottle or 1 liter smart-water bottle and freeze it and roll your triceps or calves over it.
Anyway, any of these make good gifts for yourself or for others! So hop to it! Love your body! Respect it!