Self-myofascial release is a fancy term for self-massage to release muscle tightness or trigger points. Using a foam roller, individuals apply pressure to specific points on the body, this aids in the recovery of muscles and assists in returning them to normal function.
Trigger points are “knots” that form in muscles, these points will refer pain. This means when pressure is applied to an area, pain is felt or radiated in another area. An example of a trigger point, while foam rolling your iliotibial (IT) band it causes pain to radiate up to the hip or all the way down the leg to the ankle. When rolling or working on tight/sore muscles you will experience discomfort or pain. Think of it like the pain you get while stretching. It should be uncomfortable, but not unbearable, and when you are done it should feel better. Deep compression helps to break up or relax tight muscles and adhesions formed between muscle layers and connective tissue.
To foam roll properly, apply moderate pressure to a specific muscle or muscle group using the roller and your body weight. You should roll slowly, no more than one inch per second. When you find areas that are tight or painful, pause for several seconds and relax as much as possible. You should slowly start to feel the muscle releasing, and after 5-30 seconds the discomfort or pain should lessen.
If an area is too painful to apply direct pressure, shift the roller and apply pressure on the surrounding area and gradually work to loosen the entire area. The goal is to restore healthy muscles – this may be uncomfortable, but shouldn’t be painful. Avoid rolling a joint, bone and the lower back area.
Some benefits of foam rolling:
- Prevents injury and aids recovery
- Breaks up scar tissue
- Improves flexibility
- Helps reduce lactic acid
Make sure you’re using your foam roller safely and effectively, consult with a physician or trainer before beginning your regimen.