“As a supplement to massage therapy, lying over a large physio ball for soreness is a good temporary at-home fix,” says Karen Kochanski, a licensed massage therapist with Zeel (physio balls are the large, bouncy stability balls you typically see in a gym). Drape yourself over the ball so that it’s directly under the area of your back that needs relief. Extend your arms and knees toward the floor, but make sure they don’t touch so that “gravity can work its magic,” says Kochanski. Hang out for 10 to 15 minutes (… maybe pop in a podcast?), and you’ll get a nice, natural stretch and a slow release of the muscle.
If you don’t have a physio ball, reaching for your trusty foam roller is another option—lie on top of it lengthwise for a nice chest-opening stretch similar to what you’d get on the ball. One very important caveat, though, is that you should never, ever use a foam roller to actually roll out your back—particularly your lower back. “[Foam rolling the lower back] can be potentially dangerous, as it often forces the spine into more extension than it can handle,” Danielle Weis, PT, previously told Well+Good. “Too much extension in these cases decreases the space of the spinal and foraminal canals and can lead to spinal cord and nerve impingement, and a multitude of issues can arise like shooting pain or weakness.” So consider this an excuse to lie on top of the roller and do nothing besides c-h-i-l-l.
To turn your at-home massage session into a full-on luxury spa treatment, Kochanski suggests finishing it off with a warm Epsom salt bath to “draw out excess lactic acid and toxins that may be causing inflammation.” If things are really bothering you, though, book an appointment with an actual masseuse. A physio ball and an Epsom salt bath are great, but it’s hard to pass up a pro-approved excuse for pampering. Every once in a while, at least.
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