One of the most frequent questions I receive from athletes is what my favorite soft tissue mobilization tools are. I’ve got a few below that I’ll share, but first, you need to know this about all soft tissue tools.
I don’t believe ANY soft tissue tool (or hands-on technique) create actual mechanical changes in the soft tissue. For example, people commonly use a foam roller to break up scar tissue. This makes no sense if you really think about it. If something broke up the scar tissue, would it not also destroy the skin, fascia, and other tissues in between the foam roller and the scar? How are these tools magically selective to the “bad” tissues but do not harm the others?
Instead, I believe soft tissue mobilization creates a reduction in neural tone to an area. In simpler terms, it creates a temporary relaxation of the nervous system allowing a muscle or joint to move through more motion.
Now that the disclaimer is out of the way check out these five tools for your mobility arsenal.
Some of the below links are affiliate links, but no product inclusion decisions were made based on affiliation.
The Best Soft Tissue Mobilization Tools
Compared to the thousands of dollars you can spend on other instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization devices, The Edge is a steal! I’ve used this tool for the last year in my physical therapy clinic and have noticed equal results with this tool compared to the much more expensive devices we also have. Save yourself the $$$ and give yourself The Edge.
Body Tempering, using a device called the “X-Wife,” was popularized by Donnie Thompson. AKA Mr 3000, Donnie was the first powerlifter to hit a 3000 pound total. Donnie felt that foam rollers didn’t provide enough stimulus for himself and his athletes and began using a 115lb. Steel cylinder instead. While I don’t believe that even this weight breaks up scar tissue, myself and my athletes feel great after using the X-wife. We don’t load so heavy that anything more than discomfort is felt when we do this and are very conservative with loading these heavyweights on the body.
For a great product, I recommend checking out the Geisha roller by powerlifter Chris Duffin.
The Boom Stick is the latest addition to my mobility arsenal. This small soft tissue stick saves my hands from daily manual therapy work done on soft tissue. I particularly like using the Boom Stick with active mobility drills where I move a muscle through its range of motion as pressure is applied to the muscle through the stick.
No explanation needed for this, but a tennis or lacrosse ball makes the cheapest (and very effective) way to perform self soft tissue work.
Hypervolt By Hyperice
My latest addition to my soft tissue arsenal is the Hypervolt, a machine soft tissue massager. This thing is great! Compared to comparable devices, this is MUCH quieter while still offering a good amount of force and for a lower price than other brands.
Compression Mobility Band
Compression bands are a great tool for quickly decreasing neural tone, improving movement, and decreasing pain & swelling. Check out my previous article on my favorite techniques to do with compression bands.