Self-myofascial release, also known as “foam rolling,” has transformed from a once mysterious technique used only by professional athletes, coaches, and therapists to a familiar everyday practice for people at all levels of fitness. Recent information, technology, and affordable products have introduced an increasing array of training and recovery methods to the average person.
Self-myofascial release is a fancy term for self-massage to release muscle tightness or trigger points.
This method can be performed with a foam roller, lacrosse ball, Tennis Ball or your own hands. By applying pressure to specific points on your body you are able to aid in the recovery of muscles and assist in returning them to normal function. Normal function means your muscles are elastic, healthy, and ready to perform at a moment’s notice.
Do I Have Tight Muscles or Trigger Points?
Trigger points are specific “knots” that form in muscles. They are unique and can be identified because they will refer pain. Pain referral, for our purposes, can most easily be described as the pain felt when pressure is applied to one area of the body, but the pain is felt or radiated in another area.
Why Am I Doing Something That Hurts?
For many, deep tissue massage is easy to understand. Ideally someone is able to work out the knots in your muscles. It is commonly known this process may be uncomfortable and at times painful. Self-myofascial release provides the user the ability to control the healing and recovery process by applying pressure in precise locations, because only you can feel exactly what is happening.
It is always recommended to consult with your physician or physical therapist for therapeutic/sharp pain and receive approval before starting self-myofascial release. For most people you will be cleared immediately and your doctor will encourage the practice.
What Causes Trigger Points and Tight Muscles?
Both have the same contributing factors including training, flexibility, movement patterns, posture, nutrition, hydration, rest, stress and other lifestyle factors. 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.
How Does Self-Myofascial Release Work?
Deep compression helps to break up or relax tight muscles and adhesions formed between muscle layers and their surroundings. Imagine you are tenderising your own muscles. They should be soft and supple like a baby’s muscles. However, if our muscles are not taken care of properly we can experience loss of flexibility, adhesions and painful movement.
The deep compression of self-myofascial release allows normal blood flow to return and the restoration of healthy tissue. The body naturally wants to be healthy and strong but sometimes an extra boost is needed to achieve optimal muscle and tissue health.