Getting up from the physio table we often feel freer with more movement and less pain. If you want to continue feeling those benefits each and every day here’s 5 tried and tested physio tools we recommend that you can use at home.
1. FOAM ROLLER
Foam rollers are a great tool for giving yourself a massage. They work by using your body weight to apply pressure over the high density foam. You can apply a static pressure to a trouble spot or you can move or roll the roller down the length of the muscle gliding the layers of muscle and connective tissue (of fascia) over each other which is thought to assist with creating flexibility and movement.
Another great use for a foam roller is to assist with stretches to improve your posture especially if sitting at a computer all day is responsible for your aches and pains. Lay over the roller lengthways and allow your chest and spine to extend for 5mins at the end of each day.
For more ways to use a roller check out our previous post 8 Ways to Roll it Out
2. SPIKY BALL
If you need to apply more pressure or have a hard to reach spot, the spiky ball will be your best friend. It works similarly to the roller except you can really focus in on a spot rather than glide through the entire muscle. The spikes provide some extra acupressure stimulus so we often recommend spiky balls over a smooth tennis or golf ball.
Place the ball between the target area and a firm surface. This can be the floor or even the wall or your office chair. Grade the amount of pressure by how much you lean onto the ball.
One of our favorites is to use the spiky ball to massage your calves and the bottoms of your feet if you suffer from plantar fasciitis.
3. RESISTANCE BANDS
Resistance bands must be the all time physio favourite – you haven’t really been to the physio if they haven’t given you exercises with one of these. Just Kidding!
We really do love to give exercises with resistance bands though. They provide a graded level of resistance to help give that little extra oomph to your rehab exercises to build strength without causing injury. AND the best part is it folds up small and light so you can pack it in your travel bag so you can rehab while you holiday too!
Each colour is a different strength and they come in a band (flat form) or a tubular form. Your physio is the best person to tell you what coloured band is required for each exercise they’ve given you to do.
4. HEAT PACKS
Heat packs can be a nice way to relax or relieve pain from tense muscles. You can keep one handy at home or even at work and all they need is a zap in the microwave and you’ll have a nice warm pack for 20 minutes.
Heat packs come in all shapes and sizes but we recommend commercially produced lupin seed packs from Flex Heat which are 100% Australian Made and approved by the TGA as class 1 medical devices. Lupin seeds are lighter weight than traditional wheat used in heat wheats and don’t take on the “cooked” aroma.
Heat increases blood flow to the applied area and is best used in injuries that are chronic or more long standing. If you use heat around an acute or recent injury such as a sprained ankle the increased blood flow may lead to more bruising and swelling so should be avoided.
5. ICE PACKS
Ice packs are an essential in any first aid kit or household freezer. Ice cools the area it’s applied to and slows the blood flow, decreasing swelling and bruising. Early management of swelling around an injured joint will help prevent stiffness later on down the track.
Ice should be applied in the first 24-48 hours after an injury to reduce pain and swelling in the first 48-72. If you don’t have an icepack in the freezer, the old frozen peas will do the trick. Always make sure you wrap your ice pack (or peas) in a tea towel or cloth so you don’t burn your skin. Ice your injury for 20 minutes on: 20mins off for as long as you can after the injury. If the pain is severe, there is deformity or you are unable to move the joint or area you should see your physio or doctor.