You may have seen people at the gym using a foam roller, yet not quite under stood why. They are performing self myofascial release, a way to loosen up that almost anyone can benefit from. It turns out most adults, especially those of us that are getting older, are probably somewhat familiar with “myfascial pain”, even if the term is somewhat foreign. It can manifest itself as a pain in a joint, or a stiff muscle, or even something that feels like arthritis. Many experts believe most of this pain is caused by the tightening of the fascia that surrounds the muscle and holds it in place. As online personal trainers, we hear about this all the time, and suggest that people get a foam roller for SMR to help alleviate it.
One of the best ways to imagine the structure of the fascia is to think of an orange. All of the material under the skin- the white pith and the membranes that make up the individual pieces, resembles the fascia of the muscles of the body, keeping shape and integrity.When fascia tightens or id restricted in its range of motion, muscles also become shortened and restricted. Movement is impeded and posture starts to falter.
Myofascial restrictions are most frequently called “trigger points”, and they feel like little knots along the paths of the dense muscular material. The trigger points are where pain eminates from, frequently into surrounding areas and especially when touched or “triggered”. It is these trigger points that cause most of your body’s pain, believe it or not in any area including the muscles. Migraines are caused by trigger points in the muscles of the back of the neck under the skull.
Recently in the personal training field there have developed a few myofascial techniques that you can do on your own. Self-myofascial release requires some sort of tool to get into the muscle and attack the adhesions or trigger points. Foam rollers are the most popular for us here at LIVE, with tennis balls, medicine balls, and self release tools and “sticks” also available. With a little practice, self myofascial release can be done easily, by using the tool to get to a trigger point and holding the pressure on the site until the adhesion starts to release.