Massages can work wonders to reduce muscle soreness and speed up your subsequent recovery period. But hey, we get it: Not every guy has the time (or the spare cash) to visit a top-tier massage therapist after every workout. Here are two key ways to improve your recovery using some simple massage therapy methods.
Use a foam roller
“Research shows that slightly softer rollers—the foam kind, without the PVC core—are more effective,” says P.J. Hair, a massage therapist who’s worked with Olympic athletes in Salt Lake City. “If you create too much pressure with a harder roller, the muscles can go into a protective mode and actually hold tighter. Be sure to avoid pain—it’s a misconception that pain is good. If you’re doing self-massage and it hurts, you’re doing it wrong. It should just feel good. A lacrosse ball can actually be too much.”
Use your bare hands
Start by warming up the tissues, says Hair. “Apply lotion or oil for slip, and massage in long strokes for three minutes. See if you can locate areas that feel tight or a little tender. Next, apply stagnant pressure to those areas. You’re essentially holding a trigger point. Breathe into it and encourage your body to relax. Once you feel the muscle release a little bit, press a little deeper until you feel it completely soften.”