Being sore isn’t so fun. Sure it feels good to have a hard work out or practice, to have a trying game where you end up on the turf a few times. I love the initial soreness of it for sure. Soccer is a rough game and it takes a heavy toll on the body which can add up very quickly and those minor aches and pains become chronic and aren’t so minor any more. So a few hours before you hit the hay the night after a work out go ahead and do yourself a long term favor and do some maintenance.
One of the best ways to get your muscles into a nice state of good health is to treat the trigger points/knots that are formed when the muscle is over used, under used, misused or injured. Trigger points are basically localized contractions that can cause localized pain/soreness or even send that pain to the adjacent joint or a seemingly unrelated area. Sometimes it will even cause a bit of a twitch when pressed on. Getting rid of these trigger points makes the muscle they are located in, or even the joint the muscle attaches to, feel a whole lot better. I generally treat my body once to twice a day, I prefer a good massage but not everyone has easy access to a good LMT (like myself).
DO NOT use any of the following tools on a torn muscle, you can very well do more damage. However if it is already nice and healed definitely use them, it will be all the more helpful. Also don’t over use or over do any of the following. “No pain no gain” goes only so far in my book and it is a misleading motto, pain is your body’s way of telling you something is wrong. Respect your body, and use these self care tools responsibly and properly my friends. None of these tools will cause an unbearable or unmanageable amount of pain when used properly.
This is one I swear by, I own three different foam rollers and I roll at least once daily. It is a simple device, it is basically a cylinder of foam or foam covered PVC, but it is very effective at treating tight and adhered muscles and trigger points. It is easy to use and the safest self care tool on this list. A lot of gyms have them and so do many trainers and physical therapists. Using a foam roller properly will give many of the benefits of deep tissue massage and this I can attest to. They can easily be found and purchased, you can find them at any Walmart, Target or anywhere that sells sports equipment. The first foam roller I got was the Travel sized foam roller which I still use pretty frequently. When using the foam roller be patient, you have to roll slowly and STOP on the sore spots and put pressure on them for 30 to 60 seconds. I see too many people just going at it and rolling around like an excited child, they won’t be getting the benefit from it. Yes it will hurt, but the more frequently you do it the less sore you will get and the better your muscles will feel! Foam rollers generally go from $15 to $70, amazon has the best selection and a roller is a very worth while investment.
This is a site specific tool that is more adaptable than the foam roller. I would describe the Theracane as a back scratcher for the muscles. This is for those serious about getting their muscles back into line and it hurts good while you are doing it. Just like the foam roller this tool takes patience. Since it is more adaptable you can get practically any muscle in the body so it is good for fine tuning. You are also able to get deeper without as much effort. Theracane or back buddies can be found more easily online, namely on Amazon. I found my at local Eastern Mountain Sports but they only have store locations in New England so I’m not sure where else they can be found. They usually run for $34-$40 but are built to last and come with a detailed set of instructions.
This is the least expensive tool money can buy for doing trigger point work. All you need is a flat surface to roll around on whether it be a sturdy wall or the floor. Basically you use it just like a foam roller. I have a Lacrosse ball in my gear bag as it is easy to transport, I find that it is the only tool I can properly access my TFL which causes a great deal of ITB issues which affects soccer players and most athletes. They can be obtained in a sports store or online for around $5
Gently stretch after any trigger point work
I generally perform trigger point work on myself twice a day, in the morning and before bed and as needed throughout the day.
In the morning I usually do a quick foam rolling session, keep it short and simple and take care of whatever I think needs to most attention. I get any left overs with the theracane. I finish up with a stretching routine. I also keep a couple of tennis balls in the car to do some work on my lower back if it is tight.
At night I get a lot more in depth with my self care, this usually leads to a very nice nights sleep! First I start off with a nice hot shower or bath. I like to use the larger tools first to soften up the areas, I start with my foam roller making sure to give some extra love to my legs especially on post match nights. If I am really bad I get the lacrosse ball and use it on my glutes and hipflexors. Then I polish it all off with the theracane, my low back usually get pretty fussy (childhood injury) so I spend some quality time with the area. Of course I wrap up with a stretching routine that hits every muscle group I just worked on holding each stretch 10 to 20 seconds.
Generally it takes me 10 minutes to do the morning routine and a minimum of 20 minutes to do my post-shower-pre-bed routine. Sometimes I just stick to foam rolling, but I do the rest as needed.
Now make it yours!
It is very important to get into the habit and create a self care routine of your own for yourself, your body needs to last you the rest of your life and I’m sure you all want to be playing footy when you are in your 70’s! If you have any questions or anything you do on your own let me know in the comments section!