Health News

Gadgets to ease back pain

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

All of us get sore and tight muscles from work or from working out. They usually don't go away unless you to do something to stretch out the cramp, but that doesn't mean visiting a medical office.

You can do some things at home, just as they're done by physical therapists. The massage and stretching might need a couple of inexpensive pieces of equipment. I've used them myself, with the guidance of a physical therapist.

If any sport hurts you, U.S. Athletic Training Center is the place to get better. Some of the tricks athletes have learned here, they can do at home using three simple devices: the stick, the lacrosse ball, and the foam roller.

"Inexpensive, effective and simple is the way to go," said Gary Guerriero, who runs the place.

He discovered these tools about ten years ago.

"I first started using a baseball, but it was too firm and rolled around, so then I used the rubber ball and they had a tendency to stick and were a little firmer," he said.

A lacrosse ball is perfect. Put it on a cramped muscle and use your body weight to stretch out the cramp. Like a massage, only you're the masseur. Roll two balls in a towel, and use them to relax tight muscles on either side of the spine.

Brent Milner does triathlons for fun.

"I usually get some sciatic pain, and using the ball will relax the sciatic pain if you're consistent about it and do it regularly," he said.

The stick is two handles and a bunch of plastic rollers. You're actually rolling the muscle and flattening it out so you can get normal length in the tissue.

A travel version of the stick can be thrown in the suitcase and used when you work out on the road.

The foam roller is not for travel, but at home you can roll out spasms or just lie on it after a long day to relax your spine muscles.

"I would think you would need an expensive machine to feel the way I feel. It's an inexpensive instrument, really," pro basketball player Nate Brown said.

Another trick to prevent a return of a muscle cramp is after using the devices, strengthen the muscles.

"Once you get relaxation of muscles, you want to train them to work properly," Dr. Joseph Feinberg, of the Hospital for Special Surgery, said.

Feinberg adds that training muscles with a therapist or other professional is the way to do it correctly. Another lacrosse ball exercise-- roll your feet over one after a run. There are some other workouts you can do with the gadgets that you can find on the web. We've provided links to some of them below.

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Online:

www.performbetter.com
www.power-systems.com
www.thestick.com

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