The difference between soft tissue work and mobility work, is that mobility exercises increase your flexibility – the length of your muscles – while soft tissue work increases their QUALITY. Why does this matter? Because you can often eliminate nagging Squat pains by removing scar tissue and trigger points.
Quick example – knee pain. Some say that cracking/popping knees is evidence of trigger points causing joint stress. While I’m not sure that’s true, removing those trigger points seem to diminish the cracking. Similarly, soft tissue work for the calves and IT band often eliminate knee pain almost instantly.
Keep in mind that world class Olympic athletes like Jon North (only 5kg away from breaking the American Snatch record, he used the 5×5 method to build his leg strength by the way) do daily soft tissue work. Why? Because it keeps nagging pains away, eliminates present ones and allows you to train hard.
Now you could get soft tissue work done via a masseuse (or an ART, although they don’t have one in Belgium). But doing it yourself using a foam roller is less expensive, more convenient and you can do it daily at home for faster results.
Cheap rollers will get distorted fast, so invest in a high quality one like the Foam Roller Plus (it has a PVC pipe on the inside and thus lasts 5x longer than a regular roller). You can use a PVC pipe too, but it will be more painful.
Here’s a video by Eric Cressey MS, author of Show & Go and 650lb Deadlifter, with Tony Gentilore CSCS showing you how to foam roll all your muscles.
Technique Tips. I warn you, this will hurt the first time. Don’t be surprised if you get bruises. The pain is your body telling you that you need soft tissue work. Stick with it and the pain will vanish after a few days.
- Be Persistent. IT band, glutes and chest muscles are usually the most painful spots. Spend extra time on them, working through the pain.
- NEVER Do Your Lower Back & Neck! You don’t want to injure your spine. Foam roll whatever you want, but stay away from your lower back and your neck. Your upper-back you can foam roll.
- Tennis Ball for Small Muscles. Feet, infraspinatus and glute/piriformis you cannot work with the foam roller because these muscles are too small to reach. Use a tennis ball or lacross ball for those.