What is Self-Myofascial Release and Why Should I Do It?

Post By Christy Johnson, Personal Trainer and Fitness Instructor

IMG_5294If you have been in a gym in the last few years you have probably seen people rolling around, laying on the ground in weird positions, using foam rollers, lacrosse balls, magic sticks, or other funny looking items to apparently achieve the effect of heavy breathing, grunting, and grimacing. Maybe you have done some of this yourself, or maybe you have stayed away from it not wanting to put yourself through the apparent discomfort.


Using a foam roller (or lacrosse ball etc) is one way of performing “self-myofascial release” which means, ignoring all the scientific jargon, trying to get your muscles/soft tissue to relax, stimulate that muscles stretch reflex, and improve blood flow through the area. The benefits of self-myofascial release (SMR) can include increased joint mobility, range of motion, and muscle/joint function – which can lead to pain and injury relief as well as increased athletic performance.

A great example of this can be found in runners or bikers who suffer from IT Band syndrome – pain somewhere in the IT Band, on the outside of your thigh running down into your knee. One way to combat IT band pain is to hop on a foam roller for a couple minutes every day, and try to get your problem spot to release. If successful that soft tissue will relax, blood flow will improve, joint mobility will be better, stiffness and pain will dissipate, and you hopefully won’t be limping around anymore!

Learning how to use tools like a foam roller, magic stick, therapy ball, or lacrosse ball can greatly benefit anyone who seeks to improve their athletic performance, or simply reduce overall body tension and pain. Add in some SMR before your next workout to improve your mobility! Hop on that foam roller after your next run to combat muscle soreness and stiffness before it has a chance to set in!


Check back next week for more on self-myofascial release and some “Rules of the Roll” – tips and strategies for foam rolling.

Interested in a hands-on learning experience? Join us on Sunday, March 20th at 1pm for a 75 minute workshop on the practice and benefits of self-myofascial release.    We will go over tips, tricks, and strategies on how to use a foam roller and lacrosse ball to release and relax all the problem areas of your body, leaving you rejuvenated and moving better! Handouts with the covered release exercises will be provided so you can continue your practice at home.  Click here to register under the workshops tab!



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