Athletic Therapy, Chronic Pain, Equestrian

DIY: Muscle Release

Ever get stuck with a tight neck after a stressful day and have no-one to rub it for you? Good news! You can release those tense tissues on your own. Granted, it’s not quite a day at the spa- but it will make you feel better.

Soft Tissue Release is a form of massage that involves finding pressure points in a certain muscle and then taking that muscle through it’s range of motion (or stretching it) while maintain pressure to “release” the tissue. It’s more heavy duty than your regular relaxation massage, and often seen in sport massage. It’s very effective, and while you can’t do all of the technicques yourself- there’s a few simple one’s below that you can do on your own to feel the difference movement and touch can make. 

First up, the neck. The neck is a common tight spot, and with neck tightness can come headaches and migraine symptoms. Thankfully, you don’t always need a professional to get some relief (although please see one if pain lasts longer then a few days!). Here I am demonstrating some release on the neck. Start by placing your finger with moderate to strong pressure where your trapezius muscles lifts off the shoulder (the triangle looking muscles at the side of the neck). Then, move your head to the opposite side. Continue these movements, moveing the fingers up and down the muscle, and moving your head to the side and forwards. You should feel a mix of a stretch, and pressure on the muscle.. Especially when you hit the tight spots. Continue this for 10-15 reps up and down the muscle, on both sides. You should progressively find that you’re getting more range of motion with each movement.

Now we move to the chest muscles, specifically the pectoralis group. Here we’re going to place our thumb in the front of our shoulder.. You’ll know you’ve found the spot as most people are very tight here. Feeling for that band of muscle, bring your arm to 90degrees and stretch it backwards. You can use a doorframe or wall to aid in this if you’d like more intense stretch. Move in and out, and up the muscle to different points for 10-15 passes, aiming for more range of motion each time.

Last one is the calves. These are always tight in riders, cause these muscles get used to help us maintaining our lower leg position. For this you need a chair, a stair, or a hay bale (or any raised surface). Start at the top of your calf, with both thumbs putting pressure on either side of the gastrocnemius.. Aka the big muscle in your calf behind your knee. From here, press your heels down to stretch the muscle into the pressure. Continue this down the leg a few times.
There you have it! Three soft tissue release techniques for you do use on yourself, or your friends! The main thing is to work towards increasing the range of motion in the muscles with each pass.. And afterwards you should feel much looser! Enjoy!

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