Self-Myofascial Release Explained
Lately the term ‘Self-Myofascial Release’ has been getting a lot of buzz in the media, and even more so in the fitness and massage world. Years ago the term could only be heard in hospitals, physical therapy clinics and at the chiropractors office, but has now become a household name. So what exactly is Self-Myofascial Release? Well before we try to tackle the subject, we should understand the what the fascia is.
The prefix ‘myo-’ refers to the commonly known muscles of our body. Fascia on the other hand, is a very strong, fibrous connective tissue that encompass many parts of the human body from head to toe, and keeps them in place. These parts include but are not limited to muscles, bones, joints, and organs. Wikipedia states that the fascia:
1. Provide a sliding and gliding environment for muscles.
2. Suspend organs in place.
3.Transmit movement for muscles and bones.
4. Provide a supportive and movable wrapping for nerves and blood vessels as they pass through and between muscles.
A common occurrence in many individuals (especially athletes) would be the tangling of their muscles and fascia in certain parts of the body usually due to injury or overwork (but can also develop from a sedentary lifestyle as well).These tangled areas are called trigger points, or more commonly known as ‘knots.’ If left alone, these trigger points can cause pain, tenderness and soreness and possibly loss of range of motion, flexibility, and function. Accordingly, the act of ‘releasing’ these trigger points is called ‘myofascial release’. By massaging these points, you send a signal to your brain to release that muscle area from the surrounding fascia.
The reason, ‘Self-Myofascial Release,’ or SMR has gained so much popularity lately is due to the fact that anyone can now do it in the comfort of their own home, at the office, or even at the gym, as long as you have the proper equipment such as foam rollers, or massage balls. You no longer have spend tons of money at the masseuse or spa to get a deep, therapeutic and beneficial massage.
Just think of SMR as a massage. But not just any massage, in that it requires the individual to actively search for trigger points within one’s body, and release it themselves. A foam roller utilizes the individuals body weight to apply deep pressure to target trigger points, by rolling on top of the device on the floor. Whereas massage balls can be manipulated over the chest, thighs and other parts of the body. SMR has been shown to relieve pain, increase blood circulation, and increase flexibility and range of motion.