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10 Days of Body & Mind Recovery, Day 5: Myofascial Release

Myofascial release has been around for over 50 years now, and it’s no wonder, with its ability to keep the body’s muscles mobile and free of muscle tension and tightness.

Akin to a sports massage or deep tissue massage, but the DIY version, self-Myofascial release serves to get into those Trigger points and particularly tight and knotted up muscles of the body.

Where time and money may limit how often one may get a massage, SMR can be done independently pretty much anywhere. Tools range from many varieties of a foam roller, to lacrosse or similar small firm balls, the Stick, other unique tools or simply hand and finger pressure.

What Myofascial release does that stretching does not us get into the scar tissue and deeper muscle tissue that resists releasing through basic static and dynamic stretching.

Built up scar tissue and knots in a muscle tissue impairs the body’s ability to move through a full ROM, hinders full muscle activation, and sets one up for not only pain and injury but hindered training and limitations in posture, performance and progression in training. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a pro athlete or a novice to fitness, any type of work (exercise), or acute or major injury (even that of an average training session) tears the muscle down and creates microtears and adhesions in the fascia which makes the muscle less elastic, slows blood flow to the area, and lowers the workload of the muscle and thereby entire body.

If you’re familiar with that sore feeling after your first workout in a while or after a new type of exercise or training session, or that severe almost excruciating to many, post workout delayed onset muscle soreness (aka DOMS) then you’re familiar with the soreness we’re referring to here.

None of which you want if you’re a regular gym goer, athlete, or average Jack or Jill working out to lose weight or make some of body change or reach a health & fitness goal. Which is why SMR techniques are so important.

Recall for a moment, the fact that during exercise you’re tearing apart the muscles, creating damage. It’s during the recovery process - AFTER those training sessions - that the body is able to improve and get stronger, and build muscle which aids metabolism and fat loss or physique and aesthetic changes.

By releasing the tight muscle fascia and trigger points you improve flexibility, promote recovery, and restore the body to its normal functioning state. SMR techniques support you in helping to prevent injury, as well as keeping you mobile and capable of training consistently which is exactly what you want if you’re going to make strides toward whatever your fitness and body goal is.

When mobility and flexibility is optimal, you can move and lift with proper form, engage the correct muscles, and remain injury free. Additionally, blood flow is increased which is crucial to recovery and the basis of nearly all forms of recovery and improvement.

I’m not going to lie though, Myofascial release techniques are going to be painful and uncomfortable. The degree of discomfort will depend on just how tight and sore one is, as well as the individual’s pain tolerance. If you’ve ever had a massage, particularly some sort of deep tissue one, you have an idea of the uncomfortable feelings you can expect from an SMR session. Just like anything though with practice, consistency, and experience you adapt and learn to become used to it. And the more often and regularly you do roll and release the less tight you’ll be to begin with. Yay, for another ‘win-win’!

The benefits and improvements of SMR techniques are not necessarily immediate in nature. In fact, just like deep tissue massage, there’s going to be a latency period or window of time post SMR session where those targeting muscles are actually MORE achy and sore, but the overall recovery and soreness time will be drastically shortened, and you’ll be back to full function sooner.

On a positive note, you can indeed experience more immediate relief and an overall sense of well-being after a Myofascial release and stretching session. This positive feeling is because of the lowering of stress-induced cortisol (stress hormone) due to the release of tension in your muscles and their returning to a normal better functioning state. In some more extreme cases you may even feel like you’re on ‘cloud-9’ after a good SMR & stretch session! 😇🤗☁️

What’s great about Myofascial release techniques is they are ideal for before, during AND after training sessions and at any other times during your day. In fact, using foam rolling techniques for a short period of time prior to starting a training session does not impair muscle performance like static stretching can. The idea and goal of SMR before a workout is to prime the body and muscles for lifting. To be clear here, we’re talking about spending a few minutes pre-workout, not lengthy hours.

Pretty much anyone and everyone can benefit and should be utilizing foam rolling and Myofascial release techniques in their life. The nature of our lives and jobs today makes us prone to poor posture, tight muscles, limited range of motion and mobility, and puts us at risk of chronic pain and acute and chronic injury. All of which can be offset with both SMR and regular movement, exercise and fitness, and less sitting and immobility.

If you’re one of many individuals who experience headaches, neck tension, muscle pain/spasms, chronic back/neck pain, recurring injuries, and sciatica you’re not alone. Most of these issues can be traced back to a lack elasticity in the fascia, inflexibility, improper mobility. Sure there are also instances where these symptoms are caused by something else, but Myofascial release techniques are definitely great start versus anti-inflammations, going on a gym hiatus, or running to the doctor or physical therapist.

If you are someone who is constantly in the gym, always beating your body up through manual labor, or any other case it may be, implementing this technique is crucial. The cost of foam rollers, lacrosse balls, or a small SMR tool won’t cause much of a dent in your wallet either.

Stop allowing tight, sore muscles keep you out of the gym, and start implementing an SMR practice into your daily routine!

Where are you most tight, sore and achy?

Do you have other join and muscle aches and pains?

Those pains could be originating from tight connective tissue, muscle and fascia and with a little SMR implementation you could be back in the game much sooner than just taking a break or visiting a physician.

The most commonly tight areas and muscles to zone in on when doing SMR and trigger point techniques include hard to reach and stretch areas of the back, neck, upper pecs (chest), glutes (buttocks), hip flexors and shins. Other key areas to zone in on include IT bands, adductors (inner thigh), calves, quads and hamstrings, lats, and back.

What’s your experience with SMR,

myofascial release, and trigger point techniques?

Do you need some guidance or a tutorial?

We incorporate SMR into our Fusion Fit Group Training sessions regularly, plus one of our Friday sessions spends almost half the time doing SMR!

Reach out for questions and assistance.

Rachel Cantore

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