I love mobility work, and I have for the last 8 years. It’s fair to say that since I found self-myofascial release (SMR) I have done it just about everyday. To argue that SMR does not help would be silly after all of the evidence that exists to support it. But it appears that since people get relief from performing SMR the companies that make the tools are jacking the prices up. So what mobility tools do you really need?
Some mobility tools are truly incredible, but only in one specific situation. So your return on investment is going to be very low unless your only issue is what that specific tool fixes. Working with athletes and on myself over the last 8 years I have come across dozens of tools, and bought most at first, but was never truly satisfied with them. Until recently, I had 5-8 tools in my gym bag taking up so much room at all times. Now I only carry two.
I could look at all of the various options out there, compare them on price and how effective they are. But after years of using almost everything on the market I have found really the only two tools you actually need to own in order to improve your tissue quality and increase your mobility. So let's get started.
Lacrosse ball or Baseball $1.99 - These are mandatory, not necessarily because they are so much more effective than anything else, but because they are so cheap, easily portable, and versatile. Because they can fit in your pocket, backpack, cup holder you're more likely to carry it with you. If you have it with you, you will be more likely to find a few minutes to do some SMR which will help to alleviate pain, or improve your CNS perception of pressure so we can function just a little bit better.
You could get the smaller Supernova, which is great but it costs 20-30 times more, and essentially serves the same purpose. I have found that the lax ball or baseball out performed the supernova in most situations. You can purchase them at every sports store, pick one up at the park or here.
P-Knot $50 - These are relatively new to the scene, but if you have met me or know anything about The IronSpine you know I LOVE the P-Knot. The cost may seem expensive at first, but it has completely replaced every other tool I used to use. I no longer have to bring my PVC pipe, cut tennis ball, tiger tail, multiple supernovas, taped-together lax balls, Voodoo bands, or in most cases my STIM machine. It can be used for an astonishing number of SMR techniques of which I will only cover a few, but know that an entire 25 page book has been written on it.
The shape, size, and texture of the P-Knot is why it is so effective. The rubber that is used grips the skin so you can not only break up trigger points, you can also pull the fascia in various directions to alleviate tension throughout the whole system. The shape gives you the ability to determine how much pressure you're getting. Lying on both spheres means you’ll get less pressure per square inch, or on a single sphere it will increase dramatically. If you are on one, you also have the option of using the second sphere as a handle to manipulate the tool, which you can’t do with just a single ball or foam roller. There are ways to do SMR on any part of your body with this tool. My P-Knot goes everywhere with me. You can get a P-Knot with your IronSpine here, or just a P-Knot here.
Conclusion - There are truly a dizzying number of mobility products out there, simply because the market for mobility tools exploded with Kelly Starrett's MobilityWOD. This is rightfully so, because the lack of tools prior to K-Starr was embarrassing. However now companies pop up overnight with a new tool that will fail because it is only useful in 1 situation. Lax balls, and the P-Knot give you the ability to perform SMR on your entire body for the remainder of your life for just $52. If you want various ways to use the P-Knot you can find them on instagram @pknotting they produce tons of high quality information not just on how to use the P-Knot but also on the human body!