I’ve spent most of the last 30 posts on yoga for posture giving you this posture or that, this exercise or that, with a specific goal in mind. Strengthen this, mobilize that, or stretch the other thing. Sometimes we find ourselves unable to exercise, or stretch, or mobilize, because we’re suffering from knots, tightness or spasms. What then?
In an ideal world, we would never need a massage, but that’s not likely to happen. In an almost ideal world, our spouse would be a massage therapist who could work out any tension, any time we need it. For the vast majority of us, that’s also not likely to happen.
What about those of us in that vast majority? How can we get those kinks and knots worked out, in the absence of professional help?
Simple, really, we can do it ourselves via self-massage.
Now, this is not an area I delve into to deeply. I do it, but all I can do for you is offer general advice, and a few tips. The general advice is, get yourself a couple of foam rollers and a pair of small yoga balls. Even the yoga balls are optional, you could even do it with tennis or street hockey balls.
As to the tips? They depend on where you’re tight.
For your trapezius muscles, use a small ball. I like to:
- lie on my back and do a partial bridge pose to get lots of pressure on the ball rolling against the trap
- roll the ball forward and back, alternating with side to side
- as an option, you can do this standing, pushing the ball back into a wall
For your rotatores and multifidi, which is a fancy way of saying the little muscles against your spinus processes (which is a fancy way of saying the spinal bumps that stick out your back). Or better yet, if you have knots in the muscles along your spine, I like to either:
- use two of the balls, touching each other
- lie on my back and do a partial bridge pose to get lots of pressure on the balls
- roll the ball forward and back along the knotted part
- use a long, flexible yoga roller (my wife got one a yard long and 6” in diameter)
- lie on my back on it, with the knots on the roller
- roll side to side, no more than an inch
For muscles in your sides (abdominal obliques, or your QL, for instance) you might want a shorter, thicker roller. There are purpose designed ones a foot long and 8” in diameter, with knobs to help you really dig in.
- lie on the roller, on your sore side
- roll forward and back to help ease the tension.
You can see from the above, I’m not really giving you hard rules and processes. Each body is unique, each pain is unique and each pain tolerance is unique, so you have to feel your way through this yourself.
The key to it all is, find an appropriately sized ball or cylinder, get in a position to have it apply pressure to the tight spot and roll it around to ease the tension.