A niggling back and glute injury offered the ideal opportunity to test a range of Live on the Edge’s new products.
I am a keen triathlete and particularly enjoy off-rod running but I have been struggling with an annoying back and glute injury for some six months. The pain radiates from the lower back across to my left glute muscles and sometimes into the left IT band. As well as physiotherapy exercises, plus the occasional sports massage, I have been using a number of products to help remedy the injury while at home.
Brilliantly, most of the products are easily transportable, too, so I took a few with me on a cycling holiday recently.
The Lacrosse massage ball is a smooth, hard ball that is, as you might imagine, about the size of a lacrosse ball. It is brilliant for targeting particularly tight muscles knots and for when you want to be precise with self-massage of trigger points.
I have found it very easy to roll a small area of tight muscle and particularly good along the spine and lower back.
For best effects I have been using the ball while leaning against a wall and moving up and down the ball.
There are three sizes, 7cm, 9cm and 10cm, of these spiky massage balls. I found the larger ball much better on big muscles, such as the glute. The spikes feel like mini fingers as you roll your body over the ball and around the tight muscle.
For small muscles or trigger points, the 7cm spiky ball offers a more specific self-massage.
I like the spiky balls for massage far more than any other massage tool I have come across. They help to quickly relieve muscle tightness and I feel as though they generate better blood flow and circulation to the tight muscles. After only a few uses my niggly glute muscle felt much looser and far less painful.
There are five bands in the pack and each offers an increasing resistance. My physiotherapist has given me a number of glute strengthening exercises to do, including leg clams, and I have been able to progress through two different resistance bands over the past few weeks.
I started with the least resistant band and moved upwards increasing the level of resistance in the exercises.
As soon as my partner spotted the bands he “borrowed” the middle resistance loop for help to strengthen a weak shoulder muscle. He looped the band over a door handle and practised his exercises from there. I have not had the band returned so it must be doing a good job!
The loops are simple to use and far better than the old style lengths of resistance exercise aids that required to be tied in a knot to form a loop (a knot you could rarely undo again!).
The bands are neat and colour coded and made of high quality latex. I have found that through resistance exercises my glute and back are slowly strengthening. This should lead to complete relief of long-term niggling back and glute symptoms in time.
Also take a look at Live on the Edge Latex Bands that are wider and longer.
The fitness ball is similar to what I would call a Swiss ball. It’s a large ball that is inflated and offers a really good way to do a range of core, back and glute strengthening exercises. Even just sitting up on the ball and trying to keep your balance offers strengthening potential.
There are different sizes of balls and you should choose according to your height. The larger balls are ideal for taller people. The small ball of 55cm is also perfect for sitting at a desk. It is far more challenging than I imagined it would be to sit on a fitness ball and keep my balance while typing on a computer.
I have also been using the ball for doing range of physio exercises including a Fitness Ball Plank. The aim, which I hope to become good at in time, is to hold a plank position with my feet resting on the ball. It’s much harder than you might imagine!
The firmer you inflate the ball the more challenging it makes your exercises. I have been progressing with this over a few weeks.
RockTape is a type of kinesiology tape that is applied to the skin where people are suffering pain or injury. There are a number of “magical” claims associated with the tape and while there is a lot of debate about whether it really works or not, I find that it does.
When applied correctly, Rocktape’s “unique elasticity” is said to cause the skin to form convolutions and wrinkle. This “decompresses the tissue immediately below the skin” and is believed to have three main effects:
Improves blood and lymphatic flow in the taped area
Improves the slide and glide between tissue layers
Alters the perception of pain and improves body awareness.
There are numerous anecdotes of athletes who swear by RockTape for pain relief and to prevent muscles fatigue and while I was very cynical about all the above claims I have found that RockTape has significantly reduced my lower back pain and stiffness.
RockTape is best applied by a qualified RockTape specialist or you can check out taping instructions on YouTube. It should last for about five days once applied, and even through showering.