Serial Trainer

{August 8, 2008}   Self Myofascial Release

It sounds scary, so what the heck is it?

From the National Association of Sports Medicine (NASM): Self myofascial release is another stretching technique that focuses on the neural system and fascial system in the body (or, the fibrous tissue that surrounds or separates the muscle tissue). By applying gentle pressure to an adhesion or “knot”, the elastic muscle fibers are altered from a bundled position into a straighter alignment with the direction of the muscle or fascia.

It’s crucial to note that when a person is using self myofascial release he or she must find a tender spot and sustain pressure on that spot for a minimum of 20-30 seconds. This will increase the Golgi tendon organ activity and decrease muscle spindle activity, thus the autogenic inhibition response.

To do these stretches you will need a foam roller, which I affectionately call, “Foamy”. You will learn to hate and love Foamy all at once. The biggest hurdle I faced in getting clients to use Foamy is that it hurts. I’m not going to sugar coat it for you. It’s uncomfortable and some of the trigger points actually hurt.

The more it hurts, the longer it takes you to relax and (you ready for this ladies?) breathe. Oh the fondness of watching a man pant and sweat it out through TFL/IT band stretch. This is as close as you’ll ever get to labor, gentleman. Just remember to breathe honey, you’re doing great! (wink, wink)

Benefits of Self Myofascial Release

  • corrects muscle imbalances
  • joint range of motion
  • relieves muscle soreness, joint stress
  • neuromuscular hypertonicity
  • extensibility of musculotendinous junction
  • neuromuscular efficiency
  • maintain normal functional muscle length

These are all big words. I’m sure some of you gave up with the first multi-syllabic term from a strained tongue. Basically, what this all means, is that you are giving yourself a massage and stretching out the muscles. You’re kneading out the knots that form in the muscle, which is like rolling out cookie dough. You want it nice and flat and smooth. There’s something else you must know, too. Those little knots and bundles let toxins build up inside them. For that reason, it’s very important to drink an extra amount of water to flush out your system.

The good news is, that those of you who secretly wish to run your trainer over with a bulldozer can now smile and know that these stretches are just as painful for us as it is for you! Sometimes it’s even worse!

Alright, alright, stop with the party favors and back to seriousness. As you can see, it is very important to implement these exercises into your daily regimen. You can find foam rollers on the web, easily. They are inexpensive and come in many sizes.

You can also use a tennis ball for those hard to reach spots or if you have mobility issues. I’ve included a link below so that you can see each exercise and how it’s performed but I would strongly suggest seeing a trainer (after getting Doctor approval, right!?) for a fitness/postural assessment. He/She can walk you through these and inform you of which ones are more beneficial to you. Happy Foam Rolling!

Self Myofascial Release Exercises


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