Stave off soreness like a pro athlete

Story highlights

  • Relieve back pain and increase muscle function with daily foam rolling
  • When selecting a foam roller, keep in mind your pressure tolerance for deep-tissue massage

Dana Santas is the creator of Radius Yoga Conditioning, a yoga style designed to help athletes move, breathe and focus better. She's the yoga trainer for the Atlanta Braves, the Philadelphia Phillies, the Tampa Bay Rays, Tampa Bay Lightning, Orlando Magic and dozens of pros in the National Football League, National Hockey League, National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball.

(CNN)Do you ever wake up stiff and sore? Sometimes our tired legs and achy back don't want to cooperate with those first few steps out of bed.

Believe it or not, the chronic back and leg tension typical in the general population is also prevalent in professional sports. Because we're all human and need to sit, stand and move our bodies in similar overall patterns, we experience common areas of recurring tension.
With all the bodily discomfort caused simply by being human, it would seem that everyone needs a daily massage. But that's not realistic for most of us. Even my pro athlete clients don't get massages every day! That's why we integrate self-myofascial release techniques -- such as foam rolling -- into their daily training.
    Although most gyms and sporting good stores carry foam rollers, widespread use of SMR is still relatively new, as is the science surrounding its effects on tight muscles and fascia, a connective tissue that covers all of our muscles. Many soft-tissue therapists and performance specialists believe that tension in fascia causes muscular dysfunction that can be addressed through fascial rel