Mash or Stretch?
Written By Cat Blatner
Ever go to mobilize and stretch and find yourself wondering where the heck to even start? Do I stretch first? Foam roll? Stick a lacrosse ball somewhere? Never fear, it happens to many! I hope to shine some much needed light on this subject now…
This might sound kind of funny, but, for a second let’s think of your muscles as dough. I want you to imagine you have a piece of dough that has been sitting in the fridge. It’s pretty stiff and very difficult to manipulate. You wish to pull the dough and stretch it but it’s so stiff that it just won’t stretch very much. So you hold onto either end and pull like heck. The dough finally gives and tears into two pieces. (Yikes!)
Now, what if we press on that dough a bit beforehand? What would happen if we first smash it between our hands, knead it a little, roll it around and maybe even give it some heat? The dough would eventually stretch and lengthen. It wouldn’t rip into two halves and you would be able to work with the dough with ease.
This is true about our muscles. They need to be warm and at times, they need some love and gentle smooshing before we try to stretch them to uncomfortable levels. If the muscles don’t have any give, it can be dangerous to start pulling on them aggressively.
Pain Isn’t Always Gain…
Most people misjudge the amount of pressure they should apply to themselves when foam rolling or mashing with a lacrosse ball. I see people pressing so hard that they are actually tensing the muscle up against the pressure. Talk about counterproductive! We need the muscle to be in a relaxed state; this means, if your pain levels are getting close to a 10 on a 1-10 scale, you might want to chill out and ease off a bit. Try to keep your pain levels under 7 when applying pressure.
Hope this is helpful advice! Take care of those muscles and keep them strong and long!