Working on the back as a whole can be tricky. The muscle groups are arranged in overlapping layers and for every large muscle there are five tiny little ones buried beneath it that run solely from one vertebrae to the next. That being said- it can be REALLY tricky to get in there and loosen up the little guys with a traditional foam roller or tennis/trigger point ball. So with that in mind I wanted to take a few minutes to share with you some of the other self muscle release products out there that may help you out if your neck and back are a common problem area.
If you missed any of the previous posts on the low back, midback, or neck, click here.
#1 RAD Roller
This small little roller was created specifically to work on those small muscles that run alongside the spine (the paraspinals or erector spinae) but really you can use it on almost any muscle group. As you can see, in between the two trigger point balls is a little space (the small black piece in the middle). By lining up that space along the middle of your spine, you will have perfect access to the area along either side. This allows you to lay down on the Rad and use it as a deeper roller to work your way all the way up the spine segment by segment (you can further isolate one side by rolling into it or curling up into a mini crunch as well). Once you find any problem areas, it can also act as a tennis ball/trigger point ball to sink in deeper for those cross friction/trigger point release techniques.
Where the RAD really excels is in that mid back/lower cervical area. It’s great for working between the shoulder blades all the way up into the neck. You can use it as a roller to warm up the muscles and then sink in for the deeper techniques instead of swapping back and forth between the roller and tennis ball. As an added bonus, it also makes for a compact travel roller. You can easily work on your legs with it, although I will warn you- this is a firm roller. Jumping right onto a sore muscle the way you would a softer roller, will definitely get your attention so start off easy.
To see more about the RAD, check out their website www.radroller.com.
#2 Rumble Roller
The Rumble starts off as a traditional foam roller and then adds 200+ soft foam knobs to its surface. The goal in doing so is to replicate the thumbs of a massage therapist and to allow you to work deeper into the muscles than a flat, non-shaped roller would. The knobs themselves are soft so you don’t have to worry about hitting bone and they are positioned so that they build on each other. As you roll over one, it provides a stretch to the muscle so that the next knob can sink in deeper. With that in mind, this is great for working on the deeper areas of the back and neck (especially as you rotate over to really let the knobs sink in), but also doubles as your all purpose foam roller for legs, hips, and arms.
If your back and neck are common problem areas and your in the market for a new roller, definitely consider this one over the traditional flat/non-shaped roller.
Click here for more info on the Rumble http://www.rumbleroller.com/index.html
#3 The Back Nobber
When it comes to digging out muscle spasms and trigger points in your neck and between the shoulder blades, the tennis ball/trigger point ball can often come up short. Even standing up and leaning back into the wall onto the tennis ball might not give you the kind of pressure you need to truly sink into the muscle and work on it. Even then, the ball may slide around. For that, you have the Back Nobber. This is a trigger point release cane with two different sized trigger point balls on either end. Once you position the ball onto the area you want to work, the shape of the cane will do all the work for you and from there you can apply as little or as much pressure as you want. You can use the cane either standing up or sitting down which is key in the case of a stiff and sore neck. Of all the items in the clinic, these tend to go “missing” the most.
Click here for more info on the nobber- http://www.pressurepositive.com/store/Massage-Tools-OSCAR_10.aspx
#4 The Thera cane
Like the knobber above, the Thera cane is geared towards digging out trigger points and muscle spasms anywhere from the neck down to the low back. One of the added bonuses of this gadget is that it has six different knobs for you to work with and multiple hand holds. Personally, I’m also a big fan of using this to work on some problem areas in my hips and legs.
Click here to read more about the Theracane at www.theracane.com. Be sure to check out their resource tabs and tip sheets.