Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Self-Myofascial Release (SMR)


My relationship with SMR is love-hate. The more I do it, the more I love it.

The less often I do it, the more I hate - er, love - it. 

Nothing feels worse than the act of foam rolling, but nothing feels better that the minutes immediately following a good SMR session. Especially the day after a hard run or workout.

Areas of constant tension develop in our muscles as a result of stress, physical trauma, poor posture and repetitive movement. These areas of constant tension are fascial adhesions - more commonly knots or trigger points.

If left untreated, these muscle imbalances can lead to permanent structural change to our musculature. One way to correct muscle imbalances and treat adhesions is self-myofascial release (SMR) or foam rolling.

While SMR can be quite uncomfortable at first, applying the right amount of pressure to the muscles and the fascia that surrounds them combats the tension and offers almost immediate relief. 

A mild but tolerant discomfort is normal and important for effectiveness. Be sure to steer clear of pain and avoid bones and joints.

Slowly roll the targeted area until you find a tender spot. Hold on that spot while relaxing the area and you experience a reduction in discomfort, usually between 30 and 90 seconds. 

I once heard a fellow fitness professional explain the feeling of relief similar to that of air being let out of tire - good analogy!

While foam rollers can be found in just about any store with a fitness department, you can also use a tennis ball, racquetball, hand-held roller or your fingers for SMR.

SMR is classified as a stretching technique, meaning that it is appropriate for use before and after exercise. Because the breaking up of these knots or adhesions may improve the tissue’s ability to lengthen, it is often recommended that you do the SMR prior to static stretching.

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