I have a question regarding myofascial release–is it normal that when you work on a very tight muscle, it will actually feel worse for the first few weeks? I’ve been rolling out my calves and lower back with a lacrosse ball and abs pipe and it feels great right after, but after an hour the tension comes back and is actually worse than it was to begin with.
Should I keep working with these muscles in hopes that I will see improvements in the long run, or should I find other ways to release my low back and calves? My experience with my glutes has been that in the first few weeks of rolling them out with a lacrosse ball, they would feel very sore, but that over time, the soreness went away. However, I’m not sure if the same principle applies to these other muscles. In particular, I’m concerned that I’m just making my calves worse–they get super sore and tight on the upper part and into the knee. And for my slightly strained low back, maybe direct release is not the best idea? (I got my back checked out and it’s nothing disc related by the way.)[/quote]
The problem with rolling is it utilizes the easiest massage component to overdo: Compression.
A tissues response to rolling, with either something soft like a foam device, or in your case, something hard, depends on the tissues original quality, its experience with harsh therapy and the intensity of the treatment being applied.
In your case your experiencing the worst of everything. A tight muscle that is in spasm should be treated less intensely/deep/compressed than a muscle of good tissue quality. You have to build up to the treatment so the muscle will accept the treatment.
Charlie Francis Joked that it was possible, whilst administering massage, to raise someone Creatine Phoshokinase levels like they were having a heart attack.
In your case, you should be building up to harsher, deeper treatments. It is easier to get at the calves when working on yourself, sitting on your ass with knees flexed at 90 degree. A little bit of cream or oil applied to the calves, and massage the looser portions, trying to whittle down the tighter areas. Always work on the better side of the body first.
As for the other rolled areas, start light, and work your way around the portions in spasm.