Wright: Are you rolling regularly? Self-Myofascial Release
The Fitness Trail
Fascia is the soft tissue segment of connective tissue that protects and supports many of the body’s structures (i.e. muscle) and this soft tissue may be restricted by overuse, trauma and sedentary behaviors. This may lead to compression and compacting, dehydration and create limited blood flow within the fascia and muscle, resulting in discomfort and limited mobility. Consider self-myofascial release (i.e. SMR – myo= muscle; fascial = fascia) as a therapeutic process which may lead to a break- down of the fascial density and result in improved muscle mobility.
The foam roller is one of many SMR tools (i.e. balls of various sizes/densities, The Stick and Quad Baller are excellent as well) used to perform SMR and is the one that I generally recommend. Deep-tissue massage therapy, when time and money permits may also be very helpful. However, day-to-day, utilizing the foam roller prior to your workout and prior to your stretching segment at the end of your workout, may be an effective SMR strategy.
It should be noted that SMR may not be recommended for certain special populations such as those diagnosed with fibromyalgia and osteoporosis. However, the vast majority of clients are able to perform SMR and experience many of the improved performance/mobility benefits that SMR may offer. Below are several guidelines to follow when performing SMR which will be highlighted this week. As always, prior to beginning any exercise program, please consult your physician.
SMR Guideline #1 Learn how to perform SMR (referred to as “foam rolling or rolling” below) correctly before attempting this form of therapy (next week’s column will feature a SMR Program). Roll across the tissue, five-ten times. More is not necessarily better. Over-rolling may create serious soreness at the rolled sites which is counterproductive.
SMR Guideline #2 You may roll several times per day, every day. As mentioned above, rolling prior to your workout is an excellent method of breaking down the density of the fascia and mobilizing the muscles prior to your workout which may lead to enhanced performance levels. Following your workout, right before you perform static stretching to improve flexibility, is another optimal time to roll.
SMR Guideline #3 Roll only soft tissue, never bone or tendon. Consequently, when rolling the calf muscles, for example, you would avoid the Achilles tendon or the area located behind the knee joint (i.e. popliteal space) due to the vulnerability of the tissue. If the position does not feel right, re-position immediately.
SMR Guideline #4 If it hurts, don’t do it! Roll to a point of tolerance, never pain.
SMR Guideline #5 Breathe rhythmically throughout the rolling process, avoid holding your breath, even when the pressure increases, and breathe through and with the rolling action.
SMR Guideline #6 Choose a floor surface and area which is safe, not slippery and is comfortable when you are prone, or use an exercise mat in those prone positions where your knees or elbows may come into contact with a hard surface.
SMR Guideline #8 Various lengths and densities of foam rollers are available. I recommend the six foot length for most clients. Begin with the lightest density. If you tolerate the light density easily, you may be a candidate for heavier density down the road. Average cost – $20.00.
Jackie Wright is the owner/manager of Mountain Life Fitness, LLC located in Granby, Colorado. She may be reached at her website at http://www.mtnlifefitness.com, her email at email@example.com and her Facebook page at Mountain Life Fitness.
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