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Expanding Your Mobility Toolbox on a Budget

May 15, 2017

The bottom line is this, I don't want any of you skipping out on mobilizing just because you don't have the right tools. Sure there are a lot of great products out there that do a really good job of improving tissue and joint  function but at the end of the day, you probably have everything you need already in your house.


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Before we talk about specific tools, there's 3 aspects that you want to look for in all mobility tools.


1) Size

2) Firmness

3) Surface Texture


When starting out, the first two characteristics are more important than the third but they're all important to consider in the long run. The more time you spend mobilizing the more you'll figure out what you like.



The bigger the diameter of the tool, the broader the pressure. Also, you can work more tissue at any given time. Inversely, the smaller the diameter of the tool, the more acute the pressure and more concentrated the area of tissue it effects. The size you choose will depend on what you want to accomplish.



The firmness of the tool you use will depend on the condition of your tissues. The more muscle mass you have, and the deeper the penetration you require, the firmer you'll want the tool to be. The more tender your tissues are, or the less muscle mass you have, the softer you want the tool to be. Finding the right balance for your current conditions will help optimize your efforts and will change over time.



When it comes to surface texture, this is a lesser detail that you may not need to worry about right away but can start to consider more as you build a better relationship with your tissues through consistent practice. Grooves, nubs, or spikes on a tool are all ways to increase the surface area of the tissue while rolling on it essentially improving the effectiveness of your efforts.


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Now that you know what to look for in mobility tools, let's talk about some of the most common tools and alternatives you probably already have around the house that will essentially get you the same results without breaking the bank.


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I suggest looking around your house for a lacrosse ball, tennis ball, racquetball, soccer ball, golf ball, or any other similar durable object. Chances are you already have one. Obviously a soccer ball and a lacrosse ball will perform differently but that's not necessarily a bad thing. It's easier to smash your gut with a soccer ball and easier to un-glue your glutes with a lacrosse ball.


Working the tender areas surrounding your spine? Don't spend big money on a special double-ball mobility tool. Duct tape two tennis balls or lacrosse balls together instead.



There's a big movement in the fitness industry right now to foam roll. I foam roll at least 5 days per week but if you're just getting started don't think you need to spend big money on a fancy foam roller. Again, it's all about understanding the principles behind what you're doing. 


You can get the same results by using a rolling pin or baseball bat as you can from using a foam roller.



When you want acute and directed pressure you can go out and buy a mobility stick with a nice ergonomic handle and flexible shaft. Or... you can use a broom stick and get the same results.



Sure you can buy a shiny new myofascial scraper online for $20-$100+ or you can use a screwdriver with a long shank. Use the length of the shank to scrape your tissues. My favorite part of the screwdriver is that I can use the butt of the handle as a trigger point release tool too!



Take an old bike inner-tube, cut out the valve and depending on the width of the tube, cut in half the long way. What you're left with is an approximately 3 foot long strip of rubber you can use as a compression wrap. I like to clean mine with soap and water before using. 


*I can usually go to the bike department at REI or a local bike shop and ask if they have any old inner tubes they're getting ready to throw away and they usually have a handful they're more than happy to donate.


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Now that you have all the knowledge on how to use items from around your house as mobility tools you have no more excuses to not mobilize. All it takes is 5-10 minutes of intentional effort each day. To learn more about mobility techniques check out my YouTube Channel or sign up for one of my Mobility Classes


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