Some kids like Buzz and Woody and Mr. Potato Head, some love battery operated nightmares called Furbies (I have officially hidden them all from the kids I nanny and may burn them) while other more sensible children crush hard for those sweet-ass drivable kid-sized Jeeps (yes that is me). But athletes? Athletes have a whole slew of toys designed and engineered with the anatomy/pain glutton human in mind. Yes, I refer here to mobility toys!!! They come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and levels of torture intended. So this week I'm going to give a little rundown of my favorite pain-inflicters because let's be honest—they are painful as all heck. The last one I mention, the Crossover Symmetry System, will be its separate blog post because it is that deserving and pretty sweet. Bring on the toys!
(Note: There are only seven more Mondays until Christmas so you officially have that much time to buy a new toy for a loved one. Better yet, though, make one!)
THE FOAM ROLLER
I have three different options here that are pretty sweet. The one in the top left corner is your basic foam roller that you usually see at the gym. The bottom left is what I like to call a meat grinder because I feel as though it is pulverizing every fiber in a two foot radius of it. The orange one is my personal favorite and what I have at home, called the GRID. The reason I like this one the best is it has more texture than the basic one but not so much texture that I feel like my quad is mountain biking a course of boulders. The other reason I really like the orange one is because I can travel with it. If I'm rockin the backpack I can take my straps through it and fasten it to the bottom of my pack, kind of like a sleeping pad. Or if I've got my suitcase I just stuff it full of socks and underwear and fix it right in. The GRID comes in the long version and the half (shown here) I'm happy with the half most of the time except when I want to lay my whole spine on it in which case no go. Foam rollers are best for large muscle groups or more spread out pressure.
THE LACROSSE BALL/PEANUT
The lacrosse ball is probably my all time fave mobility device mostly because of convenience but also because of precision. You literally only need you and the ball and some sort of matter to press against (floor, chair, wall, small kid-sized Jeep). The lax ball is also sweet because you can tape two of them together and call it a "peanut"! Peanuts are the best for rolling your spine, achilles, calf, oh and tricep is a good one. The lax ball is much more pin-pointed than the roller but you can still roll everything with it. Plus it fits in any bag and you can use it anytime. I take mine to class and sit on it during lecture. Sure I get some weird looks but we are well into the semester now so they've gotten over it.
Voodoo bands are the bees knees. Nothing like a voodoo band to make muscle fibers just shear right across each other and bust up adhesions. I always always, ALWAYS voodoo my calves before and after running. It is truly what keeps my lower extremities from falling off. There are plenty of awesome videos on YouTube, especially by Kelly Starrett, that will show you how to wrap everything (except your head and neck, don't do that).
Monster bands are good for stretching any possible muscle or joint you can think of. You can hook them up to the rig, a door, a railing, the playground, or just hold them in your hand. Many of our posts incorporate monster bands. I love them most for hips and shoulders but the possibilities are endless. Mine hangs from my stair railing so every time I go up or down I am reminded to stretch. Keep an eye out for these being used in the MOD posts.
NALGENES, ROLLING PINS, DOOR FRAMES, AND ANYTHING ELSE YOU CAN LEAN ON
Pretty much anything you can think of can be used for mobility. My roommate and I frequently roll each other out using the rolling pin I made pie with last week. I've used my Nalgene as a foam roller in multiple countries and airports while traveling. You can find me "Kirkin" (a term devoted to the king of mobility work Captain Kirk Warner that has a variety of meanings but specifically mobility work on random objects) against door frames, desk tops, chairs, the kitchen counter, door knobs, my bike seat at the red lights, you name it. Anything and everything can be used to jam into soft tissue and make it supple again. So buy some new toys or don't, maybe make a few, or maybe try some freestyle mobilizing aka Kirkin this week and let me know how it goes.
Notes: Not everyone likes you shoving your gastrocnemius (calf) into their furniture so be respectful and ask first when visiting someone else's home or restaurant. Also, all of the links to the tools will take you to Rogue's website. I do not specifically endorse their products over any others, it's mostly that Matt Chan is their model and I mean come on, seriously.