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My Oh Myofascial Release

April 7th, 2009

I’ve only had a few professional massages in my lifetime and I can say with certainty that there’s nothing better than having a sore, achy body manipulated by an expert. And after discovering self-myofascial release I haven’t changed my mind. What can I say, I love being pampered. But that doesn’t mean I don’t recognize the benefits of this type of self-massage or that I don’t employ it.

Basically self-myofascial release involves the use of a pretty inconspicuous piece of equipment known as a foam roller. Just think of yourself as the dough. With the foam roller in an open space on the floor you position your body so that the target muscle lays directly on top of it. As you roll back and forth your body weight presses muscle and fascia into the roller. Going back to the dough analogy it can be pretty uncomfortable when you roll over a knot, especially when instructions dictate that you focus the roller in these places for up to 45 seconds. Then it can be downright painful. A word of advice for beginners – just do as much as you can stand and work up to the recommended length of time. And you might not want to put all of your body weight into it right away.

A few of the reasons you should use self-myofascial release:

  • It can help fix muscle imbalances
  • You’ll increase range of motion in joints
  • Muscles won’t be as sore in the days following a workout
  • It can protect your body from injury
  • Scar tissue that is already present can be broken down

Truthfully, the best part of self- myofascial release is when it’s over. But whatever you have to go through to get there, there’s no denying that a little TLC on a tight IT band or hamstring can have a beneficial effect on your comfort level. Sometimes when my muscles have been through a hard day, a few minutes of rolling is the best way I know to settle them down and get some sleep.

I won’t go into all the specifics, mostly because I'm not completely familiar with all of them myself, but I will encourage you to do something good for your body beyond resistance training, cardio and simple static stretching. Many sites offer complete descriptions of how it works and the best way to employ it so it's easy to find instructions.

I guess this is one case where gains really do come from a least a little pain.

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