Trigger points or "knots" in your muscles can interfere with the normal muscle and joint movement. When left untreated, these areas will disrupt local blood flow and firing patterns thus increasing your risk of injury. Therefore it's important to address these areas. Grab a foam roller or hard ball and use these techniques smooth out your muscles.
With the Grain
Start by rolling up and down the muscle parallel to the arrangement of the muscle fibers. For example, rolling the hamstrings from the top of the leg to the back of the knee. Try to use a longer rolling motion to get as much of the muscle as possible. This technique pushes blood through the muscles and smooths out the fascia. Think of using a rolling pin to roll out pizza dough.
Concentrate on a Spot
Ischemic release can soothe trigger points. If you find a trigger point, slow down and deliberately work that spot using very small rolling motions directly over and in the vicinity of a trigger spot. Relax and breathe. As the discomfort is reduced, gradually apply more pressure.
Tack and Floss
The tack and floss technique applies pressure to the trigger points while the muscle moves. Tack the muscle by stopping the roller directly over the trigger point then floss by shortening and lengthening the muscle. For example, with a trigger point on the thigh, first position the roller directly over the trigger point. Then flex and extend the knee which moves the muscles back and forth under the stationary roller.
Across the Grain
You can also roll out perpendicular to the arrangement of the muscle fibers. With a hard ball, roll back and forth across your muscles. The smaller the rolling object you use the deeper into the muscles you will get. The larger surface are of a foam roller provide even pressure over a larger area while a small hard ball targets smaller areas with more pressure.