Ok so what is Fascia in the first place?
The definition of Fascia is
a. A band or sheath of connective tissue investing, supporting, or binding together internal organs or parts of the body.
b. Tissue of this kind.
Our body is full of fascia. It is a soft protective tissue that keeps things in our body where they should be. It is a very large part of our body and a part of training that is often over looked. Think back for a second to the last time you went for a run or had a good workout. During or after the workout did you have a pain in your knee? Maybe you felt a little twinge in your elbow. Is there some tightness and pain in your calves? Self Myofascial Release can be a huge help with all of those issues.
It is sort of like when you go and get a massage and it is that hurt so good pain in some spots. You are hitting trigger points where the fascia or tissue is tight, bunched together, unable to move freely, and is causing you some serious pain. Not only will it hurt in that particular spot but it can also contribute to pain in other parts of the body where those muscles, tendons, and ligaments attach. Self Myofascial Release is a way to relieve that tight tissue that is causing inflammation and pain.
How do you do SMR?
When is the best time to do it?
Will it hurt?
Does the pain get better?
When will I start to feel the effects of SMR?
Will it help with my flexibility?
Here are some questions you might have and I know I had when I started Self Myofascial Release. The best way I have found to perform SMR is a foam roller. You can get this anywhere that sells fitness products such as weights, mats, and other equipment. I prefer the longer foam rollers with ridges. The longer the foam roller the easier it is to move around on. The rollers with ridges just help get into the tissue a little deeper. That may be something you want to hold off on until you have let your body get use to foam rolling. I will tell you the first few times you foam roll it will “hurt” but it is a good hurt. It is also going to feel extremely awkward and will take some time getting use to. Another tool is called a “stick”. That is what I call it at least. If you look up myofascial release stick online or amazon you will find it. It literally looks like a rolling pin. You can also use a rolling pin. I have found this the best way to roll my calves and tibialis muscles (muscles around my shins).
When is the best time to use the foam roller? I prefer to foam roll after I work out, before I stretch to loosen me up. That said you can literally foam roll any time of the day. It is all personal preference. If you are suffering from IT band syndrome or pain on the side of your leg from your hip to your knee, I would recommend rolling when you wake up, lightly before a run, a deep roll after, and before bed. I will guarantee your pain improves within two weeks.
Will it hurt? Does the pain get better? When will you feel the effects? I am sorry to say yes it will hurt but it is not a bad hurt. It is the kind of hurt I mentioned above, the hurts so good kind of hurt. Those spots that hurt are tight and need to be rolled so don’t just roll on over them. Suck it up and embrace the hurt. The pain does get better. The first week will not be something you look forward to but after that it will become an enjoyable part of your routine. Depending on how tight you are and what your workout was that day it may “hurt” worse or less. You will always feel those knots but for me it became a challenge to get them out. You will feel the effects of foam rolling almost immediately. It literally feels like your muscles were just told to relax and they did. As the days and week go by you will notice pain that you have always had dissipate. If you experience low back pain rolling your glutes is a great way to help alleviate pain.
Will it help with my flexibility? Of course it will! Foam rolling and SMR is a great way to help with flexibility. It should be a large part of your flexibility training and you should never forget to add that aspect into any program. Even if you aren’t training that day foam rolling and stretching should be included in your day! I promise if you try foam rolling and SMR you will not regret it and will never go back!
Here is an article and some pictures that demonstrate foam rolling…..
Also here is a site where you can find a stick and foam roller. You can go anywhere but these are the ones I like.