Have you ever wondered why some gyms have foam rollers placed in specific areas? Are you familiar with the term myofascial release? Both the foam roller and myofascial release can be essential to feeling great after a day at work, exercise or physical activity.
When you practice self-myofascial release, you are becoming a massage therapist so to speak. All it takes is some basic knowledge of your anatomy, a little technique, and a proper foam roller.
Myofascial release is a process that some health professionals consider an alternative medical practice. The method of myofascial release starts by applying pressure to the fascia to break down adhesions. Fascia is a thin layer of tissue that separates and surrounds connective tissue, muscles and some organs.
Applying self-myofascial release has been around for some time and is a technique that works to break down and release adhesions from the various tissue layers in your body. For example, after physical activity, muscles and connective tissue tend to bind together from the tearing and breaking down which occurs during exercise. Individual segments of these tissues are called the fascia and are made up of three distinct systems, your myofascial, neural and articular networks, within the body.
Due to the restriction and tightness in your soft tissue from being active, adhesions or knots form in your fascia and muscles, changing your joint motion leading to reduced neuromuscular efficiency, injury, and fatigue.
Myofascial release is a technique of applying a firm yet gentle massaging action to these sore points where your muscle fibers have knotted up or developed adhesions. Once these spots release, they go back to a relaxed in line natural state with the rest of your muscles.
If you have ever worked out with a certified personal fitness trainer, you may have heard them talk about your kinetic chain which is made up of your muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia, neural system and articular system. These all are interdependent, so when adhesions impact one or more of these systems, it can affect all of them.
Often back pain and spinal misalignment can be linked back to adhesions where muscle, particularly in your lower back, pull and bind, causing pain in your lumbar area and sciatic nerve root. Some issues around moderate sciatic pain running down a person’s leg can be resolved by rolling out and breaking down adhesions within the gluteal muscles and the deeper prioformus muscles which can reduce sciatic pain.
Myofascial massage is a straightforward method to learn and apply. Many people often make it part of their daily stretching routine, incorporating it into either their before or after a workout regimen, making it very useful in avoiding injury or soreness.
It is essential that you choose the proper foam roll. If the foam is too soft, it will not apply enough pressure to your fascia and muscle tissue. At the other end of the spectrum, if too hard, you can damage and bruise your fascia and muscle tissue creating more pain and inflammation. If you work out at a gym, you can find the proper foam rollers there and give one a try. If not, most local sporting goods stores have the specific myofascial rollers, so ask a knowledgeable person at the store. Please note not all rollers are created equally, so it’s best to try before you buy. Get one that feels right for you.
Now let’s review a few benefits of self-myofascial release. First and foremost, it will correct muscle imbalances which in turn will improve your range of joint motion and in some cases posture. The second significant area is it’s ability to reduce muscle soreness and tightness. As you loosen and work the fascia, it will reduce the potential for tearing, which can help prevent injuries like plantar fasciitis and tendonitis. Lastly, myofascial release can help improve neuromuscular efficiency leading to enhanced performance in any given sport or activity like endurance running, swimming, and cycling.
There are people with medical conditions that should ask their doctor before using a roller for myofascial release. These folks should be mindful of any pre-existing health condition and approach myofascial massage with a degree of caution. Here is a short list of conditions that may present problems when using myofascial massage:
• Congestive heart failure
• Blood clotting
Myofascial release using myofascial massage rollers can have real lasting benefits to your overall health and wellness. It just takes a few minutes each day or each time you go to the gym to feel better. If your health permits it, myofascial release can start reducing the pain of stressed muscles and begin to restore optimal muscle length and optimum joint motion, giving you better performance along with reducing the chance for injury.
Judd Jones is a director for The Hagadone Corporation and certified health coach. For more information, go online to jhanawellness.com.