By MH Staff - Posted on 17th December 2013
You don’t build muscle during gym time, but rather in the time between gym sessions. Here’s how to maximise your downtime gains
You know that swollen feeling after an intense leg session? Boet, you need a foam roller. Self-myofascial release is all about stimulating the fascia (the tissue that encases muscle fibres) and getting that blood flowing again. Many trainers will tell you fantastic stories about lactic acid and IT bands, but the bottom line is that your body is in shock from the trauma of exercise and has routed blood to your vital organs, now you need to encourage blood flow to the muscles you just punished. WHEN: Directly after exercise and whenever needed (i.e. when you’re sore). GO FOR: Target big muscles like quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves, hip flexors and your lower and upper back. ROLL YOUR BOAT: With the foam roller on the ground use your bodyweight to add pressure, rolling back and forward until you find sore spots (trigger points), then hit those for 60 seconds.
“Thai massage is the perfect massage treatment to get rid of any tension,” says Lauren Marais, spa specialist at Eye Spa. “The technique uses yoga positions, stretching and massage to manipulate the whole body which increases blood circulation, relaxes the muscles and releases toxins.” If you’re not down with being twisted Marais recommends a Thai back massage where the therapist stretches and applies pressure to the tense back areas, also working along the back of the legs for the hamstrings. For a greater release, ask your therapist for a herbal hot compress – which, according to Marais, has a similar effect to acupuncture. WHEN: Once or twice a month. GO FOR: Back massage with a herbal hot compress. PAIN AND GAIN: Massage pressure is completely up to the individual. If there is pain, it should be bearable. If you feel the therapist is hurting you, then stop or ask for less pressure.
Have these items at hand and banish muscle soreness: HARDWARE A foam roller made of high-density foam is the best gift you can give yourself. Get rolling after gym and in the morning, or any time you feel a bit stiff and sore. OILS Arnica oil, camphor and menthol are best for muscle soreness. Blood circulation is increased after a shower due to the heat, and the product will penetrate the skin better allowing the oil to work more effectively. Sleep is the time your body regenerates, revitalises and gets rid of the previous day’s stress. This is the perfect time to put on muscle relaxants such as arnica oil – before you get into bed. NOTE: Never apply 100% pure essential oils directly to the skin or take them orally as they can be toxic if used incorrectly. There are many options of already blended arnica oils at pharmacy and health stores.