The best tools for self-release Myofascial

Massages are very expensive. And your favorite places are always booked. But there’s a reason why many top athletes get massages every day: they improve recovery, aid healing, and increase mobility in your joints and muscles. While most of us can’t get massages as often as we would like, we can get some benefits by giving ourselves a break.

What is Self Myofascial Release?

Woman using foam roller on leg while exercising in gym.

Muscle self-release, or SMR, is a type of self-massage that focuses on adhesions, knots, or soft spots in the muscle — and the layer of muscle that surrounds and encases it — often using tools. or tools to make real change. The popular notion that SMR is to “break” muscle knots in a practical sense, but this is probably not true. What you’re doing is triggering a neuromuscular response that relieves pain and allows for better, looser motion through the affected tissue.

You are “teaching” your nervous system not to tense and tighten when tissues are poked and spurred or movement is initiated. You’re easing the pain and wiping out the means of blocking the motion pattern so you can then go in and set up a better new one.

How to properly release Myofascial self

The way most people I see do SMR is they sit on a foam roller (or lacrosse ball, or whatever instrument you’re using) for an hour, exploring all their tissues, hitting every part. body and extremely thorough. It sounds great, but it’s the wrong way. Essentially, you don’t want to turn relaxation into a full-body workout, because you’re negating the real opportunity the workout offers.

Mobilize before training

SMR works best for short periods of time. When you touch a sore spot and start to feel better, you should immediately mobilize that tissue — preferably under load. This helps establish a healthier, better movement pattern. You are effectively wiping out the medium that blocks the motion pattern and then establishing a superior medium.

The problem is that the SMR effect is transient. If you wait too long to practice a move after hitting an area, the “neuromuscular blocking effect” will disappear, or at least lessen.

Sit on the lacrosse ball, hit the foam roller, or whatever tool you want and then immediately after loading the tissue you just “released”. This will take in the movement patterns you just unfolded and begin to move the tissues the way they were designed to move.

If you do shoulder mobility, immediately do several rows, pull-ups, push-ups, and/or presses. If you work your hips or calves, do a few squats.

Any movement that the tissues inhibit or “make up”, do those movements and start following newer, healthier patterns. There’s not a lot of convincing clinical research support for myofascial self-release and I think the main reason is that people don’t do it the right way. They don’t “release” the tissue and then load it up with resistance training to “reinforce” the improved movement pattern.

Relieve stress after a long day

It also makes sense to do SMR at rest, perhaps while you’re watching TV or something. Lie down on the floor and make the “unproductive” period suddenly productive. This is a great way to relax, a form of active meditation. I usually do this after a sauna — warming up the tissues, making them more “plastic,” and then gently releasing the body itself.

Do not be stressful

When you do the actual SMR, relax with it. Don’t stress, even if it hurts (and sometimes it will be very painful). Don’t grimace. Any outward manifestations of pain and discomfort will be recorded in your nervous system. What you’re trying to do here is reassure your body that you can handle the pain, that the pain isn’t so bad, and that the tissues can start to feel better.

Focus on the tissues above and below the pain area

If your knee hurts, relaxing your knee probably won’t help. If your calves are sore, calf massage can help, but not at the site of the pain. Instead, focus on the tissues above and below the painful area. Continue rolling/dropping/massaging/scraping the tissues around the painful area, working your way up and down until you find the sore spot.

The Best Myofascial Self Release Tools and How to Use Them

1. Scraper

A scraper is a metal tool that resembles a dull blade that you can use to massage the breast area. First, use it along the length of the muscle fibers—”with the fiber”—to “stretching” the muscle mass. To confirm that you are using beads, look at the muscle anatomy image and find the muscle you are targeting. Next, shave at a 45°-90° angle to the muscle fiber and think about “expanding” the fascia.

You can get a shallow shave over the entire extremity or a targeted shave that focuses on individual muscles and muscle bundles. Don `t go also hard. It shouldn’t hurt, but it can be uncomfortable. This scraper is a good one.

2. Lacrosse ball (or two)

Lacrosse balls are hard, dense, tennis balls that you can use to identify hard-to-reach tissues. Ligaments, TFLs, glutes, pecs, and specific points in the thoracic spine seem to respond well to lacrosse balls. They provide more direct, targeted pressure and can really drill into it. Tape two balls together to provide more stability and hit tissues from different angles.

3. Foam roller

The foam roller is a blunt and wide SMR device. It can attack many large tissues. You can adjust the resistance by placing more or less of your weight on the roller.

Explore range of motion as you roll. For example, when you find a soft, tight spot on your quad, stay there. Then, extend and bend your knee through its full range of motion. This seems to make foam rolling more effective than if you were to just stay in place without moving past your knees.

4. Theragun or Hyperice . massage gun

Both Theragun and Hypervolt devices are mechanical massagers that effectively vibrate your tissues.

They can help improve range of motion, enhance mobility, and are perhaps most effective used pre-workout or to promote the adoption of a new movement pattern — just like other tools. listed here. However, you must be cautious. These can be powerful little tools, and I know of at least one case of cyclists experiencing rhabdomyolysis from overuse. Use sparingly and do not leave on tissue for more than a minute.

5. Massage stick

The stick is curved with the right ergonomics to allow you to hit places you would have a hard time reaching, such as your back, neck and shoulders. Also interesting are the dense double balls at one end, which you can use as two lacrosse balls glued together. This massage stick is a good one.

6. Voodoo Floss Band

These are compression wraps that put intense pressure on the tightened tissues and help increase blood flow (and thus healing) to the area. For example, if your knees feel tight and uncomfortable during a squat, you can wrap your quads just above your knees, then perform squats. Or if you have elbow pain, wrap it above or below the elbow and practice flexion and extension. After a few uses of Voodoo Flossing, remove the strap and try again. It will feel better than before the treatment.

7. MobilityWOD Battlestar Set

This massage roller set is a great investment if you really want to do a thorough SMR. Designed by Kelly Starrett of MobilityWOD / Ready State, this collection will help you achieve every need you can expect.

8. Your Elbow

If you don’t have any, using your elbow to dig into pain-prone places can work pretty well. Obviously you’re limited in the tissue your elbow can reach, but you can get pretty creative.

What Do I Use for Self Myofascial Relase?

As for me, I’m not a big believer of releasing myself. I think being active regularly, walking a lot, taking a dip in cold water, reducing stress in general, and never really overdoing it in the gym are my keys to staying active and healthy. no pain. If I was still competing in high-level endurance sports, I’d probably change my tune and fill my closet with every gear under the sun — or get a massage. daily.

I love the Voodoo straps and waistband, and I keep a lacrosse ball or two around to work my glutes, hips, or thoracic spine when I need to.

How about you? Ever tried myofascial self-release? What tools do you prefer to use?

Caring for people.

Primal Kitchen Dijon Mustard

Information about the Authors

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather of the Primitive food and lifestyle movement, and New York Times best-selling author of Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for life, where he discusses how to combine the keto diet with the Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is also the author of many other books, including Preliminary designcredited with driving the growth of the primal/palo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating people about why food is the key ingredient to achieving it and maintaining optimal health, Mark founded Primal Kitchen, a food company that creates Primal/pale, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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