T Nation

Advanced Soft Tissue Work?


Hey all, some areas i use with a foam roller, hamstrings being an example, just don't seem to be tight at all, not that im looking for them to be tight, but is there a way to take soft tissue work to the next level.

My foam roller is pretty firm and i only bought it recently, yet hardly any areas are a problem for me, except my calves sometimes.

I feel a tennis ball is much more effective for calves and other areas as the ball is more firm, however it does pop out sometimes and it can be a nuisance putting it back under the leg. The other areas like hamstrings and such can be tricky to get with a ball as it's not that high off the ground.

Ive seen people recommend "the stick" and other things, how are they? I have only recently bought the foam roller though, so maybe im just looking for more than i need.


Rolling pin.


And a PVC pipe. I have a 4" diameter piece that's about 2 feet long. I haven't been able to tenderize my IT band to the point that it doesn't still feel intense and I roll it 2 or 3x per week.

And a lacrosse ball for the bottom of the feet, calves, and piriformis.


Wow, PVC pipe is a lot more in-expensive than a foam roller too, kinda wish i didn't buy that one now, waste of money as it doesn't really have much use for me and i haven't used it much


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BBB, this is a great point on your part. The PVC is lacking in it's ability to "moosh" around the spine for sure. Instead of rolling flat backed I roll one side of my back and then the other by slightly rotating my shoulders and avoiding direct contact on the points of my vertebrae. Thanks for this point!


Hi Kiddo,

Golf ball; plantar fascia

PVC pipe: calves, ITB, hammies

foam roller: back, quads, "paraspinus"

baseball: glutes, piriformis, hammies(sit on top of the ball on a box and move around)

I also have a rumble roller, which is I use for something different. Works ok for the back and calves.

tweet tweet


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^ That is the ultimate hypocrisy. Writing BBB at the end of every post is the gayest thing ever

Don't be so quick to overlook your own stupid tag, "Bushido Bitch Boy"


Dear BBB,

Ok I will try become more serious.
One thing I have not mastered is foam rolling of the upper body, particular the chest, shoulders and arms.
Does anyone have any suggestions/instructional videos?
And my tag was initially inspired by your tagging. But i wanted a noise, not just a bunch of letters.


Aegotheles cristatus


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i'll admit i don't find 'tweet tweet' particularly annoying. flocks of sulphur crested cockatoos screaming as they circle at 6am - now that shit is annoying. birds are distinctive and varied in australia... i think australians might feel a bit differently about birds than the majority of people? not sure on this. i wonder if the 'tweet tweet' rubs aussie posters the wrong way? don't know.

with the soft tissue work i find different implements good for jamming in different places. i've also learned to be a bit humble with the soft tissue work. if the aim is to get the muscle to relax then using something too tough for the job can be fairly counter-productive. i still get a LOT of use out of my EVA foam roller. am starting to find a piece of drain pipe a useful supplement for finding knots i didn't know i had, though. still, my ITB etc will eventually relax with the EVA roller. pretty sure that it would only seize up more and / or i'd try and injure myself digging into it with something too hard for the job.


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What would a spasm feel like?
I tend to push as hard as I can tolerate. When rolling my platar fascia I can actually feel like a sharp stabbing pain initially.


Aegotheles cristatus


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i only push as hard as is needed. enough so i can feel the tension building in the muscle - then it relaxes after about 30-60 seconds. sometimes i can feel after about 15 that it will need more pressure to properly relax - so i dig out a harder implement.

i've just found that using more pressure than is required tends to be counter-productive for me. i have never been to anybody for ART, though, just do my own. would love to let someone else have a go at it sometime. hopefully i'd learn some new techniques and i might find a good use for pushing things harder than i do.


actually a question - i think most of my muscular knots aren't muscular knots in the muscle belly so much as it is about separating the muscles so they can move / work independently, if that makes sense. feel tension at the outer edges of the muscle - it is like different muscles start to adhere to each other or something? feels to me a lot like what i'm doing with the release is putting pressure on the junctions until they relax by separating / moving independently and the implement can then dig in between the muscles to the next layer (which feels way better).

does this make sense?

could something like this be happening??

also tendons... is it helpful to roll tendons alongside stretching them? for lengthening, i mean. can you lengthen tendons gradually over time??


Hi Alexus,
What your saying kind of make sense to me. From what I understand; scar connective tissue can cause muscle bundles to adhere together and reducing mobility.
My buddy Kelly from www.mobilitywod.com talks alot about "flossing muscles" and about "capsular tightness". You should spend some time on that site. It has opened my mind up to mobility and motivates me to be a supple leapord!

Aegotheles cristatus


The hamstrings can be a real pain to self massage properly with a foam roller. If you want to annihalate your hams with some deep tissue work then try using a shot putt. The shot is up high enough to reach all of your hamstring and if you shift all of your bodyweight onto the side you are massaging then you will get a very effective self massage.
You can also use the shot for explosive overhead and forward throws.