Whether you are an elite athlete, a weekend warrior, a couch potato, or anything in between, you can benefit from Myofascial Release. Athletes put a tremendous stress on their bodies with intense training. Lack of proper warm up and recovery and even just the repetitive movement can lead to lactic acid build up and micro trauma which can result in trigger points forming in the muscles. Sedentary individuals, or ‘desk jockeys’, also have trigger points, but because they have developed imbalances and poor posture due to lack of regular balanced movement. Just as in an athletic population, these imbalances become minor aches and pains and eventually manifest as an injury!

Myofascial Release

 

How can we give back to our bodies, be pain free, and prevent injuries?
Unfortunately most of us go by the motto of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” While our bodies are very smart machines, they lack a check engine light to warn us that there is a malfunction. If we rely only on pain as a warning, we are often well into the stages of injury before we know it. When the pain comes, that’s when the body has exhausted its adaptive potential of trying to compensate and keep you moving.

What can we do about it? How can we be proactive, decrease recovery time, and improve performance?
1) Seek professional to help you identify your postural faults or muscle imbalances, and help you fix them. Make sure that the health care professional, like a physiotherapist or massage therapist is invested in injury prevention, has extensive manual therapy skills (hands-on techniques), and is versed in exercise therapy or can refer you to someone who is, a knowledgeable Pilates instructor or a personal trainer.
2) Dedicate 10-20 minutes per day to a mobility program, which may include using a foam roller, a hand roller, or a ball (lacrosse/ tennis) to do self-massage and stretching muscles that have increased tension in YOUR body.
3) Dedicate another 10-20 minutes per day to injury prevention exercises, which are also specific to YOUR muscle imbalances.

Don’t we all love massages? Now you can have one daily!
Pick a tool of your choice, foam roller for large areas, hand roller on the go, and a small rubber ball for smaller areas and trigger points.

Self-massage is a valuable part of a flexibility program. It can help relax muscles, deactivate trigger points, improve blood flow, and the elimination of toxic metabolites. Although the exact mechanism by which self-massage affects flexibility and soreness is unclear, the research suggests that it there is a neurophysiological/chemical mechanism.

Research has shown that self-massage has been shown to increase flexibility that lasts at least 10 minutes and if used for more then 2 weeks can increase long term flexibility. It has also been shown to reduce muscle soreness after a workout.

How often: Once a day. If you are active it is good to do it before and after a workout, but especially after to help with recovery.

How long: It varies by muscle group size, areas that need to be addressed, and amount of trigger points. When you find the trigger points (those tender “hurt-so-good” spots), and tight bands, massage each for about 10 – 30 seconds. Initially you may find foam rolling very uncomfortable. Use your limbs to control how much body weight you use and take breaks as needed. There might be some soreness after, so it might be necessary to give it 24-48 hours before focusing on the same area again. Do not use it if it exacerbates the muscle being massaged or any of the supporting limbs. Drink plenty of water, get enough sleep, and eat clean. This will help to flush your system and fuel your muscles more effectively.

More information and some examples of how to do self-massage:
http://www.performbetter.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/PBOnePieceView?storeId=10151&catalogId=10751&pagename=91

Research about self-massage can be found here:
http://www.strengthandconditioningresearch.com/foam-rolling-self-myofascial-release/