Self-Myofascial Release (Part 1)
Self-myofascial release (SMR) is not new to the market but it has risen in popularity and discussion, becoming more prominent amongst fitness enthusiasts and athletes alike. But what is it?
SMR is just a fancy term for what is essentially foam rolling, a type of soft tissue therapy that focuses on nerves and connective tissues. It involves only a foam roller (can be purchased for £15) and your own body weight, which can be used against the roller to massage away restrictions. A one time buy, it’s considerably cheaper than weekly massages or PT sessions to help you stretch out the sore sports regularly.
The wondrous effects of foam rolling can only be understood if you can grasp how the body operates in terms of muscle exertion. Our body is all connected, working as a functional unit and interdependently. So what does this mean? It basically means parts of your body will suffer if other parts are neglected! If one joint is not working efficiently, another will compensate which can lead to overuse issues, tissue overload and injury.
What are the benefits?
Many claim extensive benefits, from correcting muscle imbalances to relieving joint stress. And the benefits all revolve around this ‘fascia’ business. Fascia is a specialized connective tissue surrounding muscles, bones, joints, nerves, blood – essentially every structure in the body. It has three layers, and is a type of connective tissue that can be likened to oil in a car’s engine…it allows everything to run smoothly and slide without friction. When muscles experience trauma, whether overuse or injury, the layers of fascia can get torn which makes them stick together in spots (adhesions), causing discomfort. The muscles can then not work together how they should, which prevents your body from operating at its potential best. If you want a visual idea of what fascia is, check out this Youtube link but BE WARNED, if you’re squeamish it may not be for you!
Foam rolling and SMRT (self-myofascial release techniques) are brilliant at putting pressure on these adhesions, ironing out the knots and kinks, and enabling the muscles to go back to optimal performance.
A summary of the benefits:
- Improving joint range of motion
- Relieving joint stress
- Improving neuromuscular efficiency (blood circulation) which permits faster recovery from workouts
- Increasing flexibility
- Maintaining normal functional muscular length
- Preventing injury
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