Self-‐Myofascial Release Using a Foam Roller.
How do I know if I should be doing foam roller massage?
If you have a chronic area of injury like a bad knee or an ankle prone to sprains, you should definitely be foam roller massaging. Sprains and strains occur in ligaments and muscles when they are stretched beyond their normal pattern of motion. This can also occur due to micro trauma when repetitive minute injuries occur due to improper body position or limited physical movement. Leading a sedentary lifestyle weakens the body making it more prone to injury. Blunt force trauma from a fall, a sports injury or daily living can also cause injuries and bruising. The most common causes of adhesions occur at a desk with a misaligned keyboard or working around the home.
With these types of injuries you will experience pain, aching, burning, decreased range of motion in a joint or muscle (not being able to stretch as far as you used to) and trigger points in muscles that won’t go away no matter how many times they have been massaged.
How does it work?
Traditional stretching is important but can only lengthen a muscle, which can prevent injury if no damage or dysfunction is occurring in the tissue. However, if you have adhesions, traditional stretching will not break them down. In fact, stretching can even cause further injury. Self-‐Myofascial Release (SMR) activates an autogenic inhibition which uses the muscle’s own sensor for tension to help it to relax. The Golgi tendon organ is a mechanoreceptor at the muscle tendon junction that senses how tight a muscle is and will prevent a tendon from stretching to the point at which it would rip. However, in terms of a tight muscle it can get stuck in a continually tight cycle and not allow a muscle to relax limiting its range of motion. SMR stimulates the Golgi tendon organ and allows the muscle to relax. By using a foam roller you can prevent improper form from hurting your body.
How do I do it?
This is the simple part. Roll slowly over a muscle group and pause at the most painful or tender areas. Essentially if it hurts, you have found the spot that needs the most attention. When you first begin, support yourself with a leg or your arms, or roll standing against a wall, which decreases the pressure so that you will not have too much pain or discomfort. Eventually, as your muscle heals, you will be able to transfer to the floor where you will be using the majority of your body weight.
Generally you start with the part of your muscle that is nearest the center of the body and work outward. You don’t have to massage the whole muscle at once. Work in pieces or shorter strokes, by rolling the top part of the muscle then the middle and finish with the bottom. The reason you want to start at the top is because you want to save the most painful and tense portion of the muscle for last. For example in the quadriceps, the tendon around the knee is the most sensitive. Starting at the top will begin to relax the muscle as a whole which will make the tendon by the knee far less painful once you get there.
Who should do Self-‐Myofascial Release?
Self-‐Myofascial Release can help with muscle tone in athletes and people of all shapes and sizes. We want our bodies strong but we also want our bodies to be healthy. In the case of a muscle that means three major things; strength, flexibility and tone.
Please enjoy the exercises and follow the rule of thumb that says discomfort is ok, but pain that is sending you the message that your body is hurt is bad.
If you want to See the PDF version with Pictures Click Here: Foam Roller