Self-Myofascial Release is a physiotherapy technique that has become very popular over the last decade. A simple yet very effective technique to provide you with athletic enhancing results.
Rolling out painful muscles can lessen inflammation, muscle spasm, and soreness, as well as eliminate soft tissue adhesions which can cause muscles to become less pliable and cause imbalance.
Many times dysfunctional areas of fascia are referred to as knots, ropes, gristle, adhesions, and scar tissue. There aren’t actually knots and ropes under your skin. Instead, what we have is mal-alignment of tissue due to trauma and injury, poor motor patterns, and emotional distress. Releasing these tissues is simply creating a biochemical and mechanical change that will give us an opportunity to create more efficient movement patterns in the future (1).
Foam rolling and SMR used on your muscles as a warm-up and a cool-down should be an integral part of your daily workout routine. As a warm up it will prepare your muscles by making them more malleable, reduce inflexibility, and make it easier to stretch. As a cool down, it will help relax your muscles to help them recover, especially if they are sore and increase a positive biochemical change.
When rolling, apply long slow rolling strokes to longer muscles such as the Quads, Adductors, and Calves, and shorter strokes to the Glutes, TFL, and hip area. You are rolling to find trigger points or sore spots. Once you land on a sore spot, apply constant but tolerable pressure to the affected area for around 30 seconds. Hold through the burning sensation if there is one… as this is a chemical change taking place and just the beginning of release. Follow up with one more slow roll over the area afterward to give it an added touch of relief like a massage would.
How much pressure is applied and the intensity of the roll should be determined by the athlete themselves. It all depends on age, level of athlete, or the tolerance to the discomfort of applying pressure to a sore spot.
This is the added benefit of using body weight pressure which the athlete can control to comfortably reduce soreness and treat themselves during times of muscle preparation, soreness, or post activity.
In conclusion, many trainers and coaches find their athletes dealing with soreness and consider self-myofascial release as one way, if not the better way to improve their athletic function, health, and performance. Dealing with muscle soreness and myofascial dysfunction can be a long-term concern and requires persistence to correct. The good news is the body is incredibly adaptive and constantly moves towards health. So keep at it!