Self-Myofascial Release: Oh The Pain (w/ Free Ebook Link)
Self-Myofascial Release (SMR) is one thing you should add to your training and to your life year round. SMR is basically self massage aimed at eliminating trigger points/knots in your muscles and improving the overall qualities of your soft tissue. It is extremely convenient because you can do it yourself, and it is financially sound because you can do an in-depth routine with a foam roller and a tennis ball.
Trigger points occur when you use or stress a muscle, and some small parts of the muscle fiber knot up. Essentially they stay contracted even when the muscle is relaxed. These trigger points can cause pain constantly or just after being touched. The effect they can have elsewhere on the body is also problematic. Since the muscles are all connected in a ‘net’ across the body, trigger points that go unchecked can manifest into problems on other parts of your body. For instance, if you have knee pain this can often be caused by a lack of mobility in the hips.
In his article Soft Tissue Work for Tough Guys, Tony Gentilcore talks about the relationship between trigger points in the feet and full body flexibility:
Here’s a simple test:
1. Bend forward (as if to touch your toes with the knees straight). Notice the resting position of the hands and how far down to the floor you’re able to get them.
2. Now take a tennis ball and simply roll it across the deep plantar fascia on one foot, making sure to be slow and thorough.
3. After one minute, switch and do the same for the other foot. Make sure you roll across the ENTIRE surface of both feet.
4. Now perform the forward bend again and notice your hand position.
Most people (not all) will notice a drastic difference in hand placement compared to what it was at the start of the test. How is this possible?
In his rather exceptional book, Anatomy Trains, Thomas Myers explains the theory that “muscles operate across functionally integrated body-wide continuities within the fascial webbing. These sheets and lines follow the warp and weft of the body’s connective tissue fabric, forming traceable ‘meridians’ of myofascia. Strain, tension, fixation, and compensation are distributed along these lines.”
Some of the additional benefits are similar to our percieved benefits of stretching:
- Increased Mobility
- Better Tissue Quality (meaning less work to keep your muscles healthy in the future)
- Faster Recovery
- Feel Better and Move Better
Let’s jump to the routine. A good way to start is with a foam roller and a tennis ball. Get your foam roller from EliteFTS.com and get your tennis ball from your nearest tennis ball outlet (Target, Wal-Mart, etc). If you are having trouble finding a place to buy a tennis ball, then give up on life, things are going to get a lot harder in the future!
Once you have your equipment, check out this video from Cressey Performance. This is a routine that I run through everyday now. I hop out of bed and on to the foam roller, after that, I am AWAKE.
You will feel some big time Zings when you go through this series. It hurts. But it gets better as time goes on. There are quite a few additional tools that you could use as well, like a medicine ball, more dense foam rollers, lacrosse balls, The Stick, and the TheraCane.
Hope you enjoyed this post, and when you are wincing in agony through your first session, think of me.
Self-Myofascial Release: Purpose, Methods, and Techniques by Mike Robertson (Doesn’t get much better than this! Free Ebook from the hyper-intelligent Mike Robertson)
Trigger Point Therapy Workbook (This is a TECHNICAL guide for those of you wishing to take you knowledge further)