“For any player, recovery is the ultimate goal—you may come off a gruelling four-hour match at 11 P .M . and need to play another one the next afternoon. So I get some level of massage almost every day to help my muscles recover and my body to process the toxins that build up during a long match or training session. I think of massage as a necessity, not a luxury. For most people, it’s the opposite, and I understand that because of the expense. But if you can invest in a professional massage even once a month, you’ll see long-term rewards.
It’s not just that your muscles “get tight.” There’s more going on in there than muscles tearing, repairing, and re-tearing. For example, massage is an important way to keep your fascia as supple as possible. Fascia is a tough substance that runs around and through your muscles and connective tissue. It acts as both support and shock absorber. (Think of cutting through a raw chicken breast: That thin, white plastic wrap–like layer around it is the fascia.) If it tightens up, your muscles can’t function properly, and you could wind up with pain or injury. A regular massage can help keep your muscles—and the fascia in and around them—loose and healthy.
But here’s an interest ing idea: What if you could give yourself a massage every single day for a one-time price of around $20?
That leads me to another important part of my overall training: foam rolling. Foam rollers are available in any sporting goods shop, and they’re nothing more than a hard Styrofoam roll, usually about three feet long. You “foam roll” by rolling different parts of your body over the t ube, in effect giving yourself a massage. You’ll loosen t ough connect ive t issue (like t he fascia) and decrease the stiffness of your muscles. The result? Better flexibility and mobility, and muscles that can function properly. And you can foam-roll anytime, even while talking on the phone.(Traveling and don’t have a roller? Use a tennis ball!)
If you’ve never foam-rolled before, I should warn you:It can be excruciating.But every trainer I know says that if an area really hurts,that’s where you need to work.It means a certain muscle is tight and needs attention. And the good part is that the more you do it, the less intense it feels because you’re making the muscle more supple.
So how do you do it? It’s simple: For each muscle that you work, slowly move it back and forth over the roller for thirty seconds. If you hit a really tender spot, pause on it for five to ten seconds.That’s it. ” —– Novak Djokovic in his book on Tennis