Myofascial release is technical word that describes releasing ‘knots’ or tightness in muscles. Knots prevent your muscles from working as smoothly as they’re supposed to, which can result in limited movement because of pain or tightness. You’ve probably seen the foam rollers/ tennis/ lacrosse balls in a pile at your local clinic and wondered what they were for. Well, these tools can be used to massage knots out and help restore your muscles to an elastic, healthy state.
So how exactly does it work?
Massaging or putting pressure on these trigger points helps to relax tight muscles and release knots, thereby reducing tension and pain. You could imagine it like a sponge. When you release a compressed sponge, it will absorb the water around it. This is how your myofascial tissue responds. As we rehydrate this tissues, we are releasing the knot and encouraging increases in tissue elasticity and movement. Myofascial release also helps with post-workout recovery by stimulating blood flow to the tissue and will help to prevent injuries.
But you may ask – doesn’t stretching already do all of these things?
Imagine a elastic band with a massive knot in it. Now imagine stretching it as far as it goes. The band is under tension which stretches the band either side of the knot. However, stretching the band doesn’t get rid of the knot. This is where foam rolling comes in – it does what stretching can’t quite complete.
How do I foam roll?
To foam roll properly, apply pressure to a specific muscle or muscle group using the roller and your bodyweight. You should roll slowly, no more than a few centimeters each second. When you find areas that are tight or painful, pause for several seconds over these spots and relax as much as possible. You should slowly start to feel the muscle releasing, and after 5-30 seconds the discomfort or pain should reduce.
When rolling or working on tight/sore muscles you may experience some discomfort, but the pain should not be unbearable, and when you are done, you should feel better. Remember that foam rolling is to restore optimal function, not to test how much pain you can handle!
If a particular section is too tender to directly apply pressure to, start rolling the surrounding area and slowly work to loosen the entire area. Releasing trigger points helps to re-establish proper movement patterns and pain free movement – ultimately enhancing performance.
Never roll a joint or bone. Avoid rolling your lower back – if it’s sore, see a professional to help you!
Where do I begin?
In today’s society with people sitting down now more than ever, many people will have tightness in their neck, shoulder, chest, hip flexors, glutes & hamstrings. Benefits of myofascial release extend far beyond simply removing knots. Rolling your hip flexors for example, relieves tension in the ITB, which can reduce or prevent knee pain. Additionally, minimising tightness in the hips will have a chain effect on the rest of the body – improving posture which in turn can alleviate back and neck pain. For more information, or assistance in learning correct myofascial rolling techniques, contact your nearest Optimum branch and make an appointment today.