Self-myofascial release (SMR) sounds complex, but it is actually just a fancy term for a self-massage that helps release muscle tightness by using a tool such as a foam roller, lacrosse ball or your hands. SMR has grown from a technique only used by elite athletes and physical therapists, to something widely used among all individuals.
How does SMR work?
SMR works by rolling a foam roller, lacrosse ball or other tools to apply pressure to a trigger point. A trigger point or “knot” is a group of tight shortened bands of muscle tissue which often cause pain in various parts of the body. These trigger points can be caused by a variety of reasons, such as bad posture, repetitive stress and injury. When deactivating a trigger point or releasing the tension of a shortened muscle by applying deep compression, it helps restore the muscle to normal function. SMR allows for healthy blood flow, restores healthy tissue, increases mobility and improves muscle imbalances.
Should it hurt?
It is uncomfortable, yes. If you have ever had a deep tissue massage it is easier to understand the pain associated with it. The muscles are tight and knotted up so some pain is inevitable when trying to break up the tension. If it becomes too painful, try applying pressure to the surrounding areas.
When should SMR be done, before or after a workout?
Ideally SMR should be done before and after a workout. Using SMR in a dynamic-warmup is a great way to get the muscles ready for a workout by increasing blood flow and reducing muscle tightness. Using SMR in a cool down helps begin the healing process and reduce soreness.
How to SMR using a foam roller.
It is important to roll slowly. Find those trigger points and slowly roll back and forth for 30 to 60 seconds on the trigger point. You will slowly begin to feel the muscles release some of the tension.
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