Ah, self-massage, also known as self myofascial release (SMR), is a method of giving your aching muscles a serious rub down without having to pay much money or even get undressed. I talk about my homemade tool for self-massage in this piece at haubermethod.com [site links no longer live] I called "My Favorite Cheap DIY Massage." And my good friend and Hauber Method™ team member Stacey Mata, MS, explains in detail why we need self-massage in the first place.
As a fitness pro with decades of experience and a really crooked spine that causes all sorts of muscle imbalances on a daily basis, I need self-massage or I'd be 1) in pain all the time, or 2) spending a fortune--more than I already do--on professional massages. The gift of my favorite cheap DIY massage is just that: It's cheap, and I can do it myself, no matter where I go.
I travel with my magic tennis ball even when I fly overseas. There's no way I could bring a foam roller (most trainers' first pick for self-massage), but my little tennis-balls-in-a-sock fits in every travel bag I own. I can even roll my feet (as Hauber Method™ Total Access Gold members learn to do properly) in the aisle of the plane on a trans-Atlantic flight. Brilliant.
To get to my main point, today was a self-massage day. It was 90 degrees and super-humid. I had gone to the gym and lifted weights for the first time in 3 weeks just yesterday. And I slept horribly when the cat kept waking me up to purr in my face. I woke up with a kink in my neck, a tweak in my right hip (my constant trouble spot), and a scowl on my face. I knew that no act of persuasion would get me to go lift again, so I opted for what my body really needed: self-massage, on my yoga mat, in front of the TV. It was the most glorious time of my day.
For 25 minutes I rolled and suffered, my body weight making the small, hard tennis balls feel like sharp objects as I broke through the adhesions causing me to move ineffectively and exacerbate imbalance in my muscles. I spent extra time on my internal rotators, which I discuss in detail in my Save Your Neck & Shoulders program, because even though most people are troubled my internal rotation that can cause rotator cuff injury and impingement, my left side collapses on itself even worse than most due to my spinal rotation.
In the second edition of the Hauber Method™, just released this week, I have integrated the myofascial release instructional videos into each weekly workout session because I wanted to acknowledge just how crucial this form of treatment is to healing back, neck, shoulder, hip, and knee pain. It's 8:30 at night, 2 hours after my self-massage (torture) session, and I feel like a new woman. Ready to hit the gym again tomorrow--and roll again afterward, just for good measure.
Sara Hauber, MA
Coach, listener, observer, writer, and erstwhile teacher; constantly curious
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