Fitness and exercise are a natural part of life for many people, and even more so for top athletes or regular gym goers, but too often people forget about the post-training regime such as warm downs and stretching, and omitting this can cause issues down the line.
We have all seen sportsmen and women winding down their runs to a walk as they bring their session to a close, or fitness enthusiasts doing stretches to essentially relax the muscles that have been pushed to the limit and to release and prevent any acid build-up. The question is, are your muscles flexible enough to elongate during these stretches? In most cases, the answer is no, but by simply adding one quick and simple routine into your current program you can ensure your body stays in top physical form.
You may be confused about what we are talking about and which is why we will delve deeper into the world of all things fitness and the very important technique of SMR, also known as self-myofascial release.
An explanation behind the term
Self-myofascial release is essentially a massage you perform on yourself to relieve you of muscle tightness and soreness, and the best way to do this is by using a foam roller.
When you train and push your body to be the best it can be you can put a lot of strain on your muscles, more so than you may realize. The pain you feel later or the next day, is from the pressure build-up in the myofascial tissues, the membranes that connect, wrap-around, and support your muscles.
Myofascial stretches are a combination of poses and positions used to target a specific area or muscle group, which are then released from pain by foam rolling over the area and holding the stretch as you feel the pressure ease and the muscle relaxes.
Ideally, you want to only use a foam roller on areas that have dense muscle tissue which is essentially the hardworking muscle groups, and less so on the chest, abdomen, and lower back.
Does it work?
The big question that is asked a lot is about the technique efficacy and is a roller the way forward. What’s great about using a foam roller to do these stretches is at first glance it allows you to seamlessly roll over the tender area working the smaller muscles around the large one.
Foam rollers also have a high versatility factor in that they come in varying densities to suit all demographics and needs, different surface structures from smooth to a ridge for a deeper massage, and temperature control.
There is something for everyone from beginner level to professional. Using foam rollers has significantly increased in popularity in the fitness industry over the last few years and shows no sign of slowing down. If this sounds like something you would like to incorporate into your gym sessions then take a look at the top 10 foam roller benefits proposed by Holief and how you can become a better athlete or improve your overall fitness.
By increasing your flexibility, and movement, and boosting blood circulation in the body, you will notice changes in your recovery which are quicker, and you feel less tenderness after a heavy workout.
Techniques and how to choose a foam roller
The core muscle groups are mostly always activated when you hit the gym or are doing an intense training session, and targeting those as you cool down is simple with the foam roller and takes only a few minutes. Some core stretches with the foam roller are;
Placing the roller under the mid-calf, crossing the other leg over resting on the ankles to apply pressure, and rolling back and forth over the tender area holding for up to 90 seconds on the sore spot.
Tensor Fascia Latae (TFL)
Massaging the outer thigh area from hip to knee with the back leg crossed over the front of the first leg and placing your foot on the floor for stability. Roll over the area for 30-90 seconds till the discomfort is released.
Lying on the floor on the roller with it positioned on the upper back, shoulder part, and keeping your arms crossed in front of you, raise your hips off the floor as you roll back and forth massaging the upper back.
The best foam roller for you
If you are new to using a foam roller it is advised to begin with a softer foam roller and work your way up to a harder, denser version as your muscles adapt and become stronger. Ideally, you want to reach a dense variety of foam rollers as they are the most effective over the long term and are more durable.
For an overall, generalized, foam roller using a smooth surfaced one around 36-inch by 6-inch in diameter is a good choice. It has the most versatility and can be used on long and short muscle groups, and as a prop while working out if you need something to lean on for stability.
As a rule, when purchasing your foam roller the denser the foam the increased in intensity the massage will feel, and it applies more pressure. While a softer foam is more forgiving and gentle on achy muscles, and it all comes down to the pressure point you enjoy or prefer for a massage.
Perfect your self-myofascial release massage for a better feeling body
If you love working out but don’t particularly enjoy having jelly legs the next day or struggling to lift your shoulders because you pushed too hard, then using a foam roller and performing your SMR massage is the solution you have been waiting for.
A roller for myofascial release is perfect to ease muscle tension and essentially aids in lengthening the muscles which you then stretch after your massage and which are now flexible to stretch to their maximum and prevent acid buildup.
By adding in this change of pressure and release your muscle tissues can adequately repair and grow and work more effectively in the long run. Foam rollers are being implemented into fitness centers, sports routines, and home workouts around the world and have proven highly successful in keeping bodies supple and moving.
Use your choice of foam roller today when practicing your self-myofascial release massage and you will notice the transformation in not only your body but also in your mood. Your muscles will thank you for it.