self care Apr 03, 2021
Welcome to another video on self-care.  Today's video will show different self-care tool ideas for the massage therapist to use at home or between clients to manage aches and pains.  
This video accompanies another blog post which talks about how and when to use some of these ideas.  
Find one or two favorite ideas here for your own self-care to stop those aches before they become injuries. 
Many of these ideas can be recommended to clients as well for homework to support your goals in session. 
I'm going to go through a lot of self-care tool ideas, I seem to have accumulated a lot over the years.  These are all things that we used in my clinic or things that I've used for myself in my own athletics or just things I've picked up along the way. 
[ As an Amazon Associate I may receive a small commission on sales made through links here.  I only list items I have personally used and would recommend to a friend.] 
Let's start with some foam rollers.  The foam rollers come in all different densities as well as shapes and sizes. 
Years ago the first foam roller was white foam.  It's pretty squishy and gives more when rolling.  This white foam roller is a good level one, beginner roller.  If you find foam rolling is really difficult for you because you don't like the feeling, it all hurts too much no matter where you are rolling, this is a good roller for you.  I recommend it to my senior clients.  
I'll add some Amazon links just to be able to find some quick foam rollers if you 
don't already have one. 
The next two rollers I picked up from Power Systems which is a company that I like for fitness equipment.  The black one is a higher density foam and the blue one is slightly less.  The blue one is good for all-around rolling if you have foam rolled before.  They are level 2 rollers. 
This shorter roller has bumps on it for more of a myofascial release type feeling for us when we're rolling along whatever muscle group it might be.  
Let's talk about a couple of muscle groups where you could use the roller.  You could roll a piriformis, or you could roll a hamstring. 
 I'm not going to demonstrate too much about how to use these but rather for this video, show a bunch of different self-care tool ideas. 
The blog, linked here, talks a little more about where and when to use these.  You can always ask a question or make a comment below and I'll answer. 
Let's look at tennis balls as the next self-care tool.  They're really easy to find.  Target, Walmart, or anywhere that you might be out and about you can pick up a tennis ball.  
I like to use two tennis balls tied together in the bottom of a sock.  The groove in between the two balls creates a nice place for the spine.  You can place the balls at the base of the skull to release tension in the sub occipitals.  Or the balls can be used to roll down the spine.   
Besides tennis balls, there are plenty of things on the market that are similar.  Lacrosse balls, racket balls, or the two-ball package called Massage Therapy Balls.  They are a little larger than tennis balls and being made of rubber, give a bit more.  
The Orb is another ball option for self-care.  I like this one for hip flexors because it's larger and works perfectly to self-massage and release tightness in the hip flexors.  
I love this ball because as a triathlete, I had a lot of hip flexor tightness, mainly from cycling, and the tennis ball was too small to release the hip flexor area.  Demonstrating The Orb use is in the video.  
Another self-care tool for massage therapists is the Tiger Tail.  This roller stick became a favorite of ours in my clinic.  After researching a few roller sticks, this was the best because it didn't pull the leg hair of male clients, like some of the plastic rollers did.  The center of this roller is a thin foam material and very comfortable no matter which muscle group you roll. 
The Tiger Tail is good for runners but also for massage therapists at the end of a long day being on your feet. 
As massage therapists, we become pretty rounded in our upper body because all of our work is in front of us and we're usually looking down at what we're doing.  This leads to forward-rounded shoulder posture.  One option for us after a long day at work would be a chest opener.  Lying supine on a foam roller is an easy way to stretch the pectoralis muscles.  
That is demonstrated in the video as well as how to use a yoga block for the same stretch.
Using the foam roller, we can lay down with the sacrum and head supported on the roll.  The arms come out to the sides, like a "T" shape. 
When using a yoga block for this thoracic opening, I find it to be more intense.  There is no place to rest your head and the long side of the block raises you higher off the ground than the foam roller.  If your back can handle it, the yoga block does give more of a stretch to the pectoralis muscles.   
The next self-care tool is the Thera Cane.  This trigger point release tool is good for aches found in the shoulders, neck, and around the scapulas. 
As a massage therapist, I tend to get burning pain along my scapulas, especially superior angles, and around the medial borders.  These are areas I can't reach myself and the Thera Cane is the perfect shape to ergonomically allow me to release the tension I feel.  
If you do trigger point or neuromuscular therapy work with your clients, it's the same type of thing.  The rounded point on the end of the Thera Cane is specific enough to get on an ultra-sensitive point and hold.  I even use a little friction on the sore spot if needed.  
The Thera Cane is made out of hard plastic and because of the arc to the cane-like portion of the tool, it's easy to reach all over the back.  It's not only for back use though, and comes with a guide to show other ways to use the cane.  
I hope this gives you an idea or two of some self-care tools you can use to keep a healthy body and work as long as you want in the field of massage and bodywork. 
Until next time
Be fit, be strong, and use self-care tools

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