Roll Out The Kinks With Myofascial Release

By |May 26th, 2016|Expert Insight|

If you have been in a gym or store where sports equipment is sold, chances are that you have seen a foam roller or other type of rolling device used for massage.  Maybe you have used it to roll around on for muscles that seem tight or on your IT Band after running. Better understand what myofascial release (or MFR) is, the benefits of, and tools used to perform self-care massage.

Fascia is a connective tissue primarily made of collagen that encloses and separates muscles, bones, nerves, organs and runs as a continuous system throughout the entire body.  Trauma and/or surgical procedures can compromise the functionality of fascia creating muscle discomfort or restricting functionality of the affected muscles.  MFR is a massage technique to help “roll out” the areas of restricted fascia.  My personal experiences have provided me with immediate relief to areas of tension like my feet, hamstrings, and shoulders. Performing MFR aids in stretching out tight spots that allow the body to benefit in increased blood flow, improve range of motion and reduce pain over time to affected areas.  It is also a useful tool to incorporate into your workouts to prevent tightness of muscles and speed up recovery time.

There are so many tools on the market that you can use to perform MFR.  I suggest trying multiple methods and deciding which feel best for your specific needs. Most of them are fairly inexpensive and well worth the investment.

Here are tools that I like to keep around to help me repair and recover:

Foam Roller

foam rollerGreat for larger muscle groups like hamstrings, quads, calves and back.  This is a great starter if you are new to MFR since it spreads out the pressure over a larger area and avoids pinpointing to a particular spot.

Trainer tip: Many use foam rollers to relieve tension in a tight IT band.  Since the IT band is a tendon and not a muscle, turn your attention to massaging your glute maximus and tensor fascia latae (TFL) which are the muscles that attach into your IT to help find relief.

Grid/Rumble Roller

This roller is different from a foam roller due to its texture. This additional texture provides more deep tissue massage and extra pressure.   Using this can help break up adhesions in your fascia that are a bit stubborn if you are seeing slow results from a conventional foam roller.

Therapy Balls

These balls help provide more focused pressure to trouble spots and massage smaller or hard to reach areas.  They are great for relieving tension on pectoralis minor which can many times attribute to rounding shoulders and neck tension.  Many that drive frequently, work on a computer or perform activities that encourage this forward posture can benefit from MFR to this spot.  You can also take these everywhere you go due to their portability.

Massage Stick

Easier to control the amount of pressure to tight muscles or to those that are more sensitive to massage like older adults.  This tool also makes it easy to assist someone else in massage if they find it difficult to perform on themselves.  Also a great way for a trainer to personally connect with their client.

Do you have any other tools or techniques that you like to use to relieve stress or pain in your body that you can suggest to your clients?

About the Author:

Christine Oakes is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer, Fitness Nutrition Specialist, Health Coach, NASM Corrective Exercise Specialist and 200RYT certified yoga instructor . She currently operates her own fitness company offering personal training, bootcamp and yoga classes in the Mountain View, CA area. Christine has had a love for being active since childhood and believes that true fitness comes from a balance of strength, nutrition, flexibility and a dose of fun. Learn more about Christine at www.fun2befit.org.