Posts Tagged ‘myofascial release’

My Oh Myofascial Release

April 7th, 2009 No comments

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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The Best Piece of Fitness Equipment You Don’t Use

April 6th, 2009 No comments

Here are a few hints. It will help your body build muscle, but it’s doesn’t provide resistance. It can bring relief to sore, achy muscles but it doesn’t require costly appointments. And finally it can help with your balance but it’s neither a BOSU ball nor a wobble board.

If you guessed foam roller you really know your stuff. If you belong to a gym chances are you’ve noticed that these cylindrical shaped tools have earned a spot on the floor or in classes in the past few years. You may have noticed people rolling around on them or standing atop one while they lift weights and wondered what exactly this piece of equipment is supposed to do.

Admittedly a foam roller sounds a lot more boring than the BOSU. And it may seem completely unnecessary to those who don’t stretch after a workout anyways. But all those preconceived notions couldn’t be further from the truth.

Why foam rollers are breaking away from the pack:

1.Price – Sure if you have a membership at a fully equipped gym it doesn’t matter to you how much the equipment costs. If you’re looking for something useful at home you may not want to spend over $100 a pop, which is what a BOSU can set you back. Foam rollers on the other hand are often under $20.

2.Massage - Using myofascial release massage techniques (more on this in the next post) you can smooth out knots and target trouble spots without having to rely on a professional. If you get a foam roller to use for nothing more than self-massage, it’s still worth it.

3.Versatility – Foam rollers aren’t just good for muscle massage. By performing exercises while standing in different positions on the roller you can challenge your body’s stabilizing muscles and improve balance. It’s a great way to increase the difficulty of exercises you already do. Just try standing still on a foam roller and you’ll know what I mean. It takes a lot of practice to master the foam roller and you will really know you’re getting somewhere when you’ve worked up to just one full squat.