Tag: muscles

Thai Massage

One of my birthday presents was a Thai Sports Massage voucher which I finally got a chance to use this past weekend.  I’ve had this massage once before and it is incredible.

A Thai massage is also known as Nuat phaen boran in Thailand, which means ‘ancient/traditional massage’, they use a mix of Indian and Chinese massage techniques.  It is a deep, full-body massage moving from the feet upwards while focusing on energy lines throughout the body.

A Thai Sports Massage takes it a step further and is an extensive form of massage using a number of techniques: European massage (kneading), chiropractic techniques (manipulating skeletal parts) and acupressure (applying deep, constant pressure to certain ligaments, tendons and nerves).

Massage is proven to:

  • Improve blood circulation
  • Boost your immune system
  • Relax muscles
  • Reduce the heart rate, as well as your blood pressure
  • Improve your range of motion (especially after injury)
  • Cause the release of feel-good endorphins, as well as the release of serotonin

I love hard pressure massages, and this is exactly what they do (you can, of course, request a softer massage if that suits you better).  I have massive knots in my shoulders which have nearly been worked out.  They are literally the size of golf balls.  When I am stressed out (aka, every day), I tend to get very tense in my shoulders, neck and jaw, resulting in these knots.  I reckon another massage or two, and they should be gone.

My favourite part is towards the end of the massage, as your masseur climbs onto the massage bench behind you, puts their knee gently against your back and then twists you backwards and around them causing a ripple of clicks through your back.  You can literally feel the tension release.  I walked out with a dumb smile on my face, glowing, feeling amazing.

Next time I go, I’m just going to ask for the full 60 minutes to be spent on my back, as opposed to the full body.

I go to Reflexions in the Buzz Centre for my massages, and would really recommend them.  Check them out.  They have many other options, over and above the Thai Sports Massage.  I’m really keen to try out the Thai Yoga Massage next.  They also aren’t badly priced at all.

P.S. Ask for Oai (pronounced Oi).

Foam Rolling

After my issues with ITBS, a few people recommended that I acquire a foam roller which helps with self-myofascial release (SMR).  Basically, the foam roller provides similar benefits to that of a deep-tissue massage (without the expensive price tag).  This means it breaks down scar tissue and adhesions often caused my injury or overuse.  You can roll before you run, after you run, or both!  You can use it for any tight or sore muscles – but my main focus is on my ITB.  Now, the ITB is a ligament (and not a muscle), however, many people claim it can help release a tight ITB and I myself have felt the benefits of this.


It isn’t a pain-free process, and it is quite tender (especially over an inflamed ITB), but I have literally felt the incredible effects of rolling.  The foam roller is particularly helpful with ITBS when you use it for the glutes, TFL and hamstrings.  By removing tension from these muscle groups, you can decrease the ITBS you experience.

Although this helps greatly with ITB, you shouldn’t use it as a long-term treatment – rather seek professional advice as to what is causing your ITBS.

Here I demonstrate how to use the foam roller for ITBS – I cover the hamstrings, the TFL and the ITB itself.

Support yourself with your arms and hands behind you, and roll up and down the hamstrings slowly with moderate pressure until you feel a tender, tight or painful area.  Stop over this area and although it’s uncomfortable, try relax.  You will eventually feel the muscle release and relax – this can take a varying amount of time, but most people say between 5 and 30 seconds.  Go with what feels right for you.


If you want to increase the pressure you’re putting on your hamstrings, you can advance the move by putting one leg on top of the other.  This isn’t a pain tolerance test, though, and if it is too painful for direct pressure, rather change angles and gradually move over that area until it releases.

Hamstrings - Advanced
Hamstrings – Advanced

The TFL or ‘Tensor Fasciae Latae’ muscle is situated on the front of your thigh, more or less where your pocket would be and helps stabilize the hip in extension.  It is often thought to be a big contributor to ITBS in conjunction with the Gluteus Maximus, so it’s a good idea to roll out any tightness that may be in this muscle.


Lastly, is the ITB itself.  Now, remember that this isn’t a muscle, but I have found major relief from rolling over the ITB.  If you suffer from ITBS, this is a warning that it is extremely sensitive, and this should be done slowly and carefully, putting a lot of weight on your hands to reduce the pressure on your ITB.


If the pressure is too much, you can cross the unused leg over and place it on the floor in front of you for extra-stabilization and to reduce the pressure felt while rolling over the ITB.

ITB - Beginner
ITB – Beginner

Always seek medical attention prior to using a foam roller to ensure it is safe to use in your individual circumstances.  I bought my Foam Roller from Dischem for R299.99, but they are not hard to come by, and you can find them at all major sportsware outlets.  Check out breakingmuscle.com – I found this site very informative and helpful in understanding how to foam roll safely, and why it helps.  I’m definitely not looking back!