Prevention is better than cure
To think that someone else can constantly pick up your pieces and put you back together again is pure insanity. Think about all the times that you acquire an ache or a pain. Think about all the Saturdays that you wish you could go get a massage at the drop of a hat or call up your chiropractor just to make whatever ails you feel better. The funny thing is, you might be able to help yourself more than you know.
Now, I am not saying that what you can do with the items I will list below can ever replace a chiropractor, massage therapist, or physical therapist, but they can help with your minor aches and pains that might not call for a visit to one of these fine medical professionals (some consider them allied health, but I would consider them a front line before a visit to the doctor, especially for bone, joint, or muscle).
If you ask any half-way decent coach, trainer, chiropractor, PT, or massage therapist most will come up with a very similar list of must have items to help with your mobility and injury prevention, because lets face it, taking a trip every other day to one of the above professionals is not realistic for most people.
By now, most anyone that is involved in fitness/training/or rehab has heard of or used a foam roller. Foam Rollers are a super simple and cheap way to help aid in recovery, warm-up, cool-down, and injury rehab. If the $18 price range is just absurd to you, you can always get a large diameter piece of PVC pipe and glue some old yoga mat down to the surface and you have your own home-made roller (although, I warn you, that this will be a very, very deep tissue massage).
Another option for travelling is to have a stick or hand roller on hand (not as effective, but it fits in a suitcase very nicely)
For deeper, more pin-point issues, one can turn to the use of a lacrosse ball. Now different balls can be used for different areas of the body:
- Lacrosse ball- Forearms, feet, chest, upper back, hip flexor, (tape two together for your erectors), piriformis
- Golf ball- bottom of the foot or forearms
- Soft ball or mobility ball- piriformis, hip flexor, abdominal, upper/lower back
I have on hand at our gym:
- Multiple single lacrosse balls (about 5)
- 2 sets of 2 lacrosse balls taped side by side
- A softball sized mobility ball
- 1-3 Golf balls
The idea is that sometimes you need a little more of a targeted release than say just rolling over it with a foam roller. The different types and sizes of mobility balls help to allow you to choose that perfect line between discomfort and pain (mobilizing is never going to feel awesome, but we are not looking to be in pain for 30-45 minutes).
The one in the link above is the brand that I prefer. They are a little more expensive, but have a couple of benefits over other mats:
- They are resilient and don’t tear up like cheap mats
- They come with a warranty
- They don’t slide around on the floor like other mats
- They are extra long, so they fit tall and short alike
Other items that are nice, but not necessary to have for you yoga/mobility practice:
- Cork Yoga Blocks
- The cork is a little more stable than the cheap foam blocks
- Yoga Strap
- With poses that you might not be able to quiet get into, the strap can help you with the proper alignment.
These are just a couple of tools that can help keep you in the game on a daily basis (if you have a serious injury, make sure and go see someone, don’t try and fix it with a foam roller…). Tell your friends and family and just maybe, you can get them as a stocking stuffer and help roll out some of that tension acquired through hours of driving.
Little Yoga video with ques for all those travelers and athletes with chronic lower back issues. Check it out, do it, and see if it does not help a little.
NOTE: We only provide about 7 minutes worth of video. I would suggest moving through the modified sun salutation 8-10 times to really get warmed-up before going into the static postures (you will also get a little more out of the static postures if you are a little more warm).