In most cases, I use lacrosse balls for trigger point therapy at my gym. However, there are two other tools I use to break up knots and promote mobility- The Stick and the Foam Roller.
The Stick is super easy to use. It also transports easily and can really make a difference in your recovery between workouts and matches.
Here’s a quick video on how you can use them to start improving your recovery.
Research On The Stick
“There were no statistically significant improvements in hamstring flexibility, vertical jump, concentric isokinetic quadriceps strength, or the 20-yard dash speed after acute pre-treatment with The Stick. However, our results do suggest that self-massage of the quadriceps, gluteal, hamstring, and calf muscles using The Stick immediately prior to sprinting may have a positive, although not statistically significant impact on sprint performance.”
The researchers who performed this study were initially attracted to the benefits of The Stick because it claimed to increase flexibility, strength, and power in as little as 30-seconds.
While the results may not be statistically significant, I don’t think it’s best used before activity.
Instead, I have wrestlers use it because it helps to alleviate muscle soreness after training sessions. Don’t get me wrong, I do sometimes use means of self-massage before training but it’s done quickly before I begin my real warm-up.
Farzad, B., R. Gharakhanlou, H. Agha-Alinejad, D. Curby, M. Bayati, M. Bahraminejad, J. Maestu. Physiological and performance changes from the addition of a sprint interval program to wrestling training. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 25(9), 2392-2399. 2011.
Mikesky, A., R. Bahamonde, K. Stanton, T. Alvey, T. Fitton. Acute effects of the stick on strength, power, and flexibility. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 16(3), 446-450. 2002.
The Foam Roller is another way I implement self-massage to minimize/eliminate soreness.
Almost all of the wrestlers I train start and finish a workout using a foam roller or rumble roller. It’s nothing crazy, especially the warm-up. I just have them perform passes over areas that are tight or sore.
Check out this video by the super smart Eric Cressey. This is a great series to help you recover between sessions.
I was at Eric’s first big presentation in Syracuse a number years ago and I was fortunate to talk with him after at the famous Dinosaur BBQ. He’s unbelievably smart and specializes in training baseball players in Massachusetts.
However, even though he specializes in working with baseball players, he is still very experienced when it comes to improving overall athleticism.
Here’s a quick video on how to select a Foam Roller. The tougher the roller, the more discomfort it may cause you. However, that’s an indication that there are knots. Be sure to spend extra time on these spots because the tightness from the knots may be negatively impacting your mobility and overall performance on the mat.
Generally speaking, for lean, muscular individuals (most wrestlers) a somewhat softer foam roller is recommended. If you carry around more mass, you may want more of a sturdy roller. For a really tough roller, simply use a PVC pipe and glue a piece of Yoga mat to it to prevent it from slipping.
Finally, if you’re interested in one of the most in depth posts you’ll ever read on recovery, check out this post- Your Ultimate Guide to Recovery
And, of course, if you have any questions on ways you can improve your recovery for wrestling be sure to leave a comment below.