That’s nice and all Barbara, but what’s the best the best way to go about this? “What shall I do: massage or stretch to address muscle aches?
The first thing you have to do is determine the source of your soreness. Is it being caused by a general tightness of your muscle or a specific knot or trigger point? While stretching is your best bet for tightness, a knot needs to be, well, kneaded.
Check yourself (before you wreck yourself)
One way to determine if you’re dealing with muscle tightness and are in need of a good stretch is to look at yourself in a mirror: check if your hips and shoulders are level. For example, if your right shoulder is lower than your left, it could be an indicator that the muscles on the right side of your back are tighter, and you need to spend some time stretching to elongate them. Imbalances like this can put more pressure on some muscles than others, which can lead to tension.
And check again
Unlike general tightness throughout a muscle, trigger points are knots in specific areas along the muscle fibers. Like tightness, they too can lead to a lack of flexibility, but trigger points tend to feel more sore and tender because they develop when lack of blood flow leads to lactic acid build up.
Because the muscle gets so tight, the blood flow doesn’t move through the muscle, so the blood isn’t pulling the lactic acid away from the cells.
You can use your hands (my hands ;)), or a massage ball, or foam roller to identify knots. You’ll know when you’ve found one—it will probably hurt. or feel sensitive.
To work it out yourself, hold pressure on a trigger point for 30 to 60 seconds. If that’s too painful, you can massage around the knot until it loosens up enough to massage over it.
Book yourself some me-time
Booking a massage with a pro (massage therapist or fysio) is something I will always recommend. They can help you release muscle tension, especially in hard-to-reach places like your back. I’m also a big fan of foam rollers and massage balls for the same reason. They can help with both stretching and trigger point release.
Something I also ask my clients: “Do you work out?” And I don’t mean heavy bootcamps or anything. Just some soft workouts like: yoga, pilates or (my all time favorite) BARRE. Those workouts also incorporate stretching movements and really help with (lower) back problems, hamstring tensions and are just overall uplifting (hello serotonin). The best of both worlds and I love it!
Let me know what you’re thoughts are about this or hit me up if you want to work with me.