A couple of things that became apparent while running weekly mobility and yoga classes are that foam rolling hurts and stretching can be funny. But, both of these things have hugely helped each person that has attended my classes.
Making an effort to consistently work at your mobility and flexibility will greatly improve your performance and results in and out of the gym, helping you to move through your workouts with far more ease. The more range of motion you have in your joints, the higher quality your technique will be, allowing you to sit deeper in your squats and lunges, to move freely without pain and get full access to the way your body can truly move.
The best athletes in the world all have strict and consistent mobility/yoga sessions programmed into their training. They aren't just the best athletes for no reason. They work hard to be where they are and that includes working on the things they don’t always want to work on. Like Mobility and Stretching. I am not saying we are all wanting to be athletes or workout to that level but whether you’re and athlete or not, who doesn't want to be able to get the best out of their body and be able to move well?
Tension is something you can’t stretch. Unlike tightness and stiffness. This is where the foam rolling and stress balls, even elbows and knuckles in trigger points come into play. Trigger points are points in the fascia (A band of connective tissues or collagen that connects to muscles under the skin) surrounding skeletal muscle that when you apply a bit of pressure to, they freakin hurt! If you're not almost either sick or crying then you probably haven't found the sweet spot.
Tune into the pain as it's an indicator that a specific area needs some work. If you start to feel a burning nerve pain, you’re probably going too far. Listen to your body but also be aware that sometimes the body will get tighter with a certain pain rather than start to relax. This is where the breath comes in handy. Also try to apply enough pressure that you reach about an 8/10 on the pain scale and keep pressing until that reduces to around a 3. Try tuning into deep controlled breaths to help to reduce tension and relax the body.
Of course if you are unsure of anything, it is always good to have a health professional to assist you in working with this stuff in depth. As a health professional myself, I even have people I see for different things like Physiotherapy, Remedial Massage and other kinds of body work. It is all an investment in your health and a step closer to having your body in peak condition.
Pop on your fave stretchy pants and treat yourself to some juicy stretches.