Increasing Your Mobility with Self-Myofascial Release (SMR)
WHAT IS SELF MYOFASCIAL RELEASE?
Self-myofascial release, or SMR, is an alternative healing method that is safe and natural. Utilising a SMR tool such as a foam roller, individuals gently apply pressure to myofascial trigger points. These trigger points are more commonly called knots. When consistent and gentle pressure is applied to these points, the tissue stops contracting or restricting and range of motion is restored. There are several key benefits to utilising SMR.
BENEFITS OF MYOFASCIAL RELEASE
Improves Flexibility and Mobility
Self-myofascial release is most famous for its ability to increase your flexibility and overall mobility. As demonstrated in this study from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, subjects who utilised SMR experienced a significant increase in their range of motion without negatively impacting the force or activation of the muscle. In other words, athletic performance was not negatively impacted.
Prevents (and helps with) Injury
A study published in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies shows a direct correlation between consistently practicing self-myofascial release and preventing injury. With the increased range of motion and flexibility, individuals will lower their risk for strain caused by tightness of muscle.
Increases Fitness Ability
As you can see in this study from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, subjects who used self-myofascial release after a workout experienced significantly less post-exercise fatigue. The study concludes that this reduced feeling of fatigue may be key in improving one’s fitness ability as it will allow individuals to train harder for longer periods of time. This will lead to improved performance, strength, and endurance.
GETTING STARTED WITH MYOFASCIAL RELEASE
What You’ll Need
First thing you’ll need to do is get a self-myofascial release tool. The tools you can use for SMR will vary based on your budget and preference. Here are several options, beginning with the most popular:
- Foam roller (flat or grooved)
- Curved or flattened sticks (such as Theracane) – (may or may not have grooves/bumps)
- Lacrosse ball
- Tennis ball
How to Do It
The method for applying the pressure to the trigger point will vary based on which tool you choose. I will describe the most common method, which is for the foam roller.
Finding a comfortable place, such as a carpeted room, sit down with the foam roller. Beginning with your calves, place the roller underneath your legs. Boost yourself up slightly with your arms to shift your bodyweight forward and on to the calves. Roll back and forth within a space of 4 to 6 inches. Count to 10 then move the foam roller upward towards the thighs. Continue doing this throughout the body.
Here is a great beginner’s video guide to SMR.
I would recommend utilising self-myofascial release prior to and following each training session. In this way, you are preparing muscles for the activity to follow then releasing the tension that has built up during that training session.
If you really want to improve your flexibility, athletic performance, and overall quality of life, then you need to start utilising self-myofascial release. Whether with a foam roller or tennis ball, applying a consistent amount of gentle pressure each day on knots, or trigger points, will help to eliminate tightness in the muscles. You’ll decrease your risk for injury and feel amazing.