Self Care: 6 Tools to Keep on Hand

Endurance athletes often put their bodies through stressful workouts. While it would be nice to get daily massages like professional athletes do, most triathletes can't afford the time and expense of daily massage.

And while nothing can replace the incredible work of a skilled massage therapist, there are products that can help athletes with self-care maintenance between those few massage appointments you decide to treat yourself to.

Here are six items to keep on hand:

High Density Foam Roller (aka the Pillar of Pain)

Often athletes are introduced to the Pillar of Pain due to illiotibial band syndrome. Physical therapists use foam rollers as a technique to help rehabilitate the illiotibial band (IT band) and decrease pain at the knee or the hip. Athletes roll across this six-inch solid piece of foam to massage and lengthen the tendon.

More: How to Treat IT Band Syndrome

Rather than waiting to use a foam roller for injury rehabilitation, athletes are using rollers as self-care, preventative therapy. Though often used on IT band issues, the foam roller isn't limited to this use. These rollers can be used for myofascial release, massage and promoting healthy muscles on a regular basis. Some athletes use them daily to stay healthy.

A full length roller (6 inches diameter by 36 inches long) can be found for around $20. You can also find shorter varieties as well. Many of your local physical therapy supply stores carry the rollers. Instructions for exercises on how to use the roller can be found on many websites.

More: Coach Jenny's 3 Foam Rollers Exercises for Athletes

Thera Cane

This handy tool is excellent for working knots out of your back and shoulders. The cane design allows you to use leverage to put the hurts-so-good pressure on knotted rhomboid muscles and other hard to get to areas. For those of you that know people that aren't athletes, but work in front of a computer all day, the Thera Cane is a great gift to keep next to their desk for tension relief. MSRP is $39.95 and it includes an owner's manual in the box.  Manuals can also be downloaded on the product website.

Roll Recovery

This unusual-looking tool is a spring-loaded mechanism with four rollers attached to each end. The spring-loaded force-flex tool helps you put pressure on key areas, massaging the legs. It is small enough to travel well and retails for $99.

More: Roll Your Aches Away

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