Jackie Wright: Myofascial release: Roll away!
May 27, 2011
The major benefits of rolling, also known as self myofascial release (i.e. SMR) have been presented in this column previously; however, there are a few additional tips that are worth sharing. If you are unfamiliar with SMR, this is a technique that involves releasing the fascia (i.e. connective tissue) that surrounds the muscle.
This may be accomplished by placing the “soft” tissue on a foam roller, and rolling across the fascia releasing it. Think of the analogy of a boneless chicken breast in a plastic bag and attempt to pull the chicken apart-it is not an easy task. However, take the chicken out of the bag and then you can manipulate it more effectively. So, when we release the fascia (i.e. the plastic bag), we are able to access the muscle, enabling us to perform stretches, lengthening the muscles more effectively and perhaps alleviating soreness at the site. Follow the tips featured below and release your fascia! Prior to beginning SMR, particularly if you have conditions such as fibromyalgia, please consult your physician.
• There are many ways to perform SMR. SMR may be performed with the foam roller, but also with tennis balls, golf balls, The Stick, or other release tools. The key is to know which ones to choose for each purpose. For example, a golf ball might be a good choice for rolling the plantar fascia, while a tennis ball may be more appropriate for rolling the fascia of the thoracic area. It is critical that you only roll soft tissue and stay away from hard tissue, such as bone and always avoid the joints.
• Avoid over-doing it, particularly if you are new to SMR. Particularly with a golf ball, if you roll too hard, you may damage the foot, so moderation is key.
• Prior to rolling, hold on the specific site for a few seconds followed by performing three to five rolls across the site, breathing rhythmically throughout. Generally, we advise clients to roll to a point of tolerance not pain.
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• One of the great aspects of SMR is that it can pretty much be performed anytime.
• Perform SMR prior to your workout. We encourage our clients to roll while they are waiting for their classes or their personal training sessions. Obviously, our clients have been trained how to roll safely and effectively, so you should seek out a fitness professional to train you prior to attempting it yourself.
• Roll prior to your warm-up.
• Roll prior to stretching and your cool down.
• Roll when you feel tight or sore.
• While you may not have time to roll the entire body, there are usually a few trouble spots that will benefit from rolling, so focus upon those. For example, if you have IT Band Syndrome, which affects the fascia that runs from the hip to the lateral side of the knee joint, releasing that area via rolling may help to lessen soreness/tightness and enhance your workout/sports’ performance.
Jackie Wright is the owner/manager of Never Summer Fitness, LLC located in Grand Lake, Colorado. She may be reached at her website at http://www.neversummerfitness.com, her email at NSFGL@comcast.net , her blog at http://www.skyhidailynews.com and her Facebook page at Never Summer Fitness.
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