Self Myofascial Release

“OUCH.”  “What the??”  “This hurts!!”

These are all common responses I hear from someone the first time they try self myofascial release. (SMR)

foam roller

No, this isn’t one of my toddler’s toys, and it’s not a noodle for the swimming pool. This is a foam roller, found at most sporting goods stores for around $20-$40.  I have found that utilizing stretching alone is not always enough to release muscle tightness, especially when I am doing a lot of running.  Regular use of a foam roller releases trigger points and helps to reestablish proper movement patterns.  Foam rolling offers many of the same benefits as a sports massage, including reduced inflammation, scar tissue and joint stress, as well as improved circulation and improved flexibility.

Our bodies learn to compensate for what we throw at them every day, but we can exceed our ability to recover via too many intense workouts, poor posture, and other lifestyle factors.

Our fascial network is a system of fascia and connecting ligaments, tendons, organ bags, and muscle envelopes that provide movement and stability to our bodies.  Fascia is a loose connective tissue, with a woven appearance.  In young people, fascial fibers are two-directional, both vertical and horizontal.  As we age, the fascial architecture becomes more multidirectional. Fibers lose their elasticity, flatten out and can stick to one another.  Eventually they can become matted together.

Effective myofascial release work combines pressure and movement to rehydrate and “unstick” the collagen fibers. By using a foam roller, you can perform self myofascial release (SMR). Place the foam roller under sections of the body and slowly roll across the area to help release myofascial tissue below the skin. The key is applying just enough pressure so that the muscle remains pliable, and to make slow and controlled movements. When you find areas that are tight or painful, pause for several seconds, breathe deeply, and relax.  When our muscles are taken care of properly we can experience improved flexibility, mobility, and better overall daily performance.

Never roll over a bone or a joint, and avoid your neck and lower back.

My favorite area to foam roll is the IT band. It hurts like heck, but doing this regularly has truly helped me to avoid painful runner’s knee. Have you tried foam rolling?  How has it helped you? I’d love to hear.

Have a great week,

inhale exhale

Featured Recipe

Easy Salsa

I love to keep a batch of this on hand in the fridge. Add to your eggs at breakfast, as a snack with carrot sticks, or as a topping for chicken or fish at dinner.

1, 14 ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes
1, 4 ounce can chopped green chilies (found next to the taco kits)
1/2 cup sliced scallions (white and green parts)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp salt, or to taste
1/2 cup chopped fresh tomatoes

Place all the ingredients except the chopped tomatoes in a blender and process until finely chopped. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the chopped tomatoes.  Enjoy!

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