If there is one luxury I enjoy most it’s getting a massage. Most of us can’t afford a massage every day, every week or even every month. A great alternative is the technique of self myofascial release (SMR), better known as foam rolling to release tight and restricted fascia. SMR relaxes and stretches out fascia and helps to bring back mobility and range of movement in our bodies. With the RAD All-In kit, SMR is easy and feels sooo good.
You might be asking, what is fascia – it’s a bit tricky to explain but here goes. Our muscles are surrounded by a thin membrane of connective tissue called fascia. Fascia runs through our entire body, wrapping around and connecting muscle, bone, nerve, artery, vein and organs. Generally fascia holds everything in place on the skeleton and is one contiguous structure. Over time, more layers of fascia accumulate, wrapping tighter around the muscle, resulting in stiff and tense muscles. Injuries, bad posture and even dehydration will cause fascia to lose pliability. Tight fascia can restrict motion and/or pull the body out of alignment. The goal of SMR is to help relax and lengthen the fascia through techniques of compression, flushing and shearing. The end goal is to ultimately improve posture, reduce tension, and increase range of motion and mobility.
Now that everyone understands fascia and the techniques of SMR, here’s the toolbox. The RAD All-In kit comes with RAD Roller, three different RAD Rounds, a RAD Rod, RAD Helix, and RAD Block. I’ve been using the RAD kit over the past few months and it’s become a part of my daily routine. The RAD kit is particularly effective at relieving my stiff neck, jaw pain and tension headaches. In addition, it’s been superb for tight hips/glutes (where I hold all my tension while working out), sore hamstrings (after a tough yoga class) and achey lats from bouldering/climbing.
The RAD Helix and RAD Rod have transformed the way I roll and stretch. The RAD Helix is the equivalent of a foam roller but better. It is designed with an indented groove in the centre of the roller, making room for the spine so that it’s not rolling directly on the bone. Personally I like to combine the Helix with the RAD Rod which acts as handles. The easiest way to describe the rod is to think of a rolling pin for the body. When using it, I start by lying on the floor with the Helix under the neck, weight pressing down into the Helix. Slowly, I turn my head side to side relieving tension held at the back of my head and neck – anyone who gets tension headaches will understand what I’m saying. When rolling out the back, I do it with bent knees and feet pressed into the floor to help glide the body over the Helix. Once I reach my lower back, I gently unbend my knees to let the weight of my back to fully sink into the Helix for a deeper release (exhale and sigh).
The rolling doesn’t stop at the back, other great areas to roll out are sore glutes and stiff hamstrings. Roll those bad boys out, hurts in a good way!
Another option is to use the RAD Rod without the Helix. I enjoy rolling along the sides of my neck, the quads and the calves, feels like a delicious stretch. For those who like to follow instructions, the RAD kit suggests pulling the Rod towards the heart to promote blood flow. Or just go crazy like I do and roll in all direction, as long as it feels great, right?
The RAD kit comes with three Rad Rounds which are simply balls of different sizes and density. These balls are ideal for compression/point release and flushing out achey muscles. Here are my favourite SMR techniques:
The Green round is the tennis-sized ball and the softest. Green works well on the back by leaning against a wall and pressing sore lats into the green round for a deep release. With bent knees, move up and down along the wall to let the ball roll out every back muscle – feels like luxury. Another good use of the green round is to release tension in sore hamstrings. Start by kneeling on a mat, toes tucked, green round placed behind the knees, gently sit the weight onto the ball. This can be quite painful so be gentle. After 30 seconds, the ball can be re-positioned by moving it down an inch and again, sit onto the ball. Continue down the length of the leg for a full leg massage.
The Blue round is the golf-sized ball and medium density. It’s great for people with tennis elbow/golfers elbow and people on the computer all day or with carpal tunnel. As a climber, my forearms are often tight from over-use. To roll out the forearm, I start on the top side of the forearm and firmly press the ball into the extended arm and hold. By making a fist with the hand of the extended arm and tilting the wrist up and down, it allows the ball to dig “real deep”. Roll the ball up and down and in small circles to flush out the arm muscle. Then flip the arm over and roll out the inner arm.
For anyone that clenches their teeth, the blue round is a game-changer to relieve jaw pain and tension headaches. Place the blue round against the jawline and with an open palm, lightly roll it along the jaw and up towards the temples, even along the eyebrows can feel nice.
Last but not least, the little Black round is the smallest and densest of them all. The black round is my go-to for a lovely massage of the hands and feet. Who knew we held so much tension in the hands? Place the black round on a hard surface like a table, palms facing down, press into the ball and gently roll it around the entire palm. Notice how it feels around the thumb area and the pads near the roots of each finger. After the hands, move to the feet. Fair warning, foot massages are PAINFUL but so beneficial. Those who are pain-sensitive, I would suggest sitting on a chair so that less weight is placed onto the black round. For those who are brave, stay standing, step onto the black round and slowly roll the ball under the foot. Tender spots are bound to be found, hold the ball in those spots and gently release more body weight onto the ball, oooowwwwwweeee! It’s a joyful pain, much like a professional foot massage, the pain sometimes is unbearable but so rewarding and feels amazing afterwards. After a good self-foot massage I swear I have more bounce in my steps. Give it a try, I promise you’ll love it. Hint: if you’re very sensitive, try it with the blue or green ball instead. No one will judge you.
Finally, the RAD Roller is the double attached balls. Many people have tried the DIY two-tennis-balls-in-a-sock to roll out the neck. But no matter how tight the socks are tied, the contraption never holds its shape and could potentially be dangerous when used to roll along the neck and spine. The RAD Roller is a much safer option.
I could go on and on about all the uses I’ve gotten out of the Rad kit but honestly, try it out for yourself. Self Myofascial Release is nearly as good as a massage and much more accessible on the day to day. All the balls and rollers in the kit are sold individually as well. Check out www.radroller.com