What is self-myofascial release? In other words, foam rolling. Most people have heard of this before. Some have not. If you’ve been in a gym you’ve seen the foam rollers and must’ve wondered how to use them. Well, I’ll supply you some tips here. It’s used by athletes, coaches, and therapists in everyday practice for people of every fitness level. What it really is: a self-massage to release muscle tightness or trigger points. You don’t only need to use a foam roller but also a tennis ball will work on most muscles to return your muscles back to functioning at a normal capacity, where they are elastic, healthy and perform when you want them/need them to.
What is a trigger point or how do I know I have tight muscles? A common tight muscle area is the lower back, glute, hamstring complex. If when you go down to touch your toes you can only get your waist to 45 degrees then you have tight muscles in that region. When raising your arm overhead, you may only get to 70 degrees when it should be about 90, then you know you have tight muscles in your shoulder girdle.
Trigger points are different in that they refer pain when pressure is applied to one area of the body. The pain can either be felt in that muscle or radiated in another area.
If it hurts, relate it to a deep tissue massage, it may be a little easier to understand. However, instead of a Licensed Massage Therapist working out the knots in your muscles, you can do it yourself. It provides you the ability to control your own healing and recovery process. Consult with your physician or physical therapist for sharp pain and receive approval before starting any type of self-myofascial release.
Releasing trigger points helps to reestablish proper body mechanics, pain-free movement and can enhance performance in any sport. Sometimes stretching is not enough because the knot will remain unaltered. Foam rolling can assist in breaking up these knots, resuming normal blood flow and function.
You may wonder what causes trigger points and tight muscles. It’s a compensation mechanism that our body uses to protect itself from intense training, movement patterns, posture, nutrition, hydration, rest, and stress. It’s an indication that your body is out of balance. Imagine tenderizing your own muscles. This deep compression release allows normal blood flow to return to the blocked area and restore healthy tissue. Never roll a joint or a bone, avoid the neck area. You may be sore the next day, like after a deep tissue massage, but your muscles should feel like they have been released. Try the release technique again in 24-48 hours if it still feels like there is a knot.