Myofascial release is my new fitness focus. Fascia is the tissue connecting skin to muscle and muscle to bone. Fascia develops adhesions, that can feel similar to muscle knots. Muscle knots and fascia adhesions cause joint or muscle pain, decreased range of motion, declining performance and the normal aches all of us experience. The philosophy of myofascial release is different from stretching which elongates the muscles. The idea here is that connective tissue and muscle knots arise from general wear and tear, overuse, overtraining or from past injuries. Adhesions prevent smooth motion and make the body feel stiff or tight. This tightness can be confused with muscle tightness, but it is different and can’t be stretched out. As you roll out and hit a knot, rest on it for 30 seconds, and then roll back and forth over it in two-inch increments. This is not comfortable and can border on painful. If there is no discomfort, then you are not breaking up or releasing the knots. In fact, the more uncomfortable your rolling session, the more relief and mobility you will feel later. You want enough pressure to release the myofascial knot, but not so much that you are wincing. If you have no knots (everyone does), rolling would be painless. Rest assured, it does become less uncomfortable the more you do it. Rolling (as those of us who roll call it) is like applying your own deep tissue massage. There are two ways to apply pressure. The first is by using your body weight, positioning your body so more pressure is applied. For example, if you are rolling your calf, apply more pressure by crossing your legs and resting the other leg on top. The second way to apply more pressure is by type of roller. The harder the roller, the deeper you can work out those knots. If you are just starting out, opt for a roller with more give. White rollers are the spongiest; the blue/green and white marbled ones are stiffer. The black, High Density rollers are hard and the Trigger Point Quadballer is slightly softer than a rolling-pin. Advocates of rolling recommend it be done at least twice a week and up to everyday. I can personally attest that rolling has resolved many back knots, kinks between shoulder blades and neck aches. It also makes me way more limber. Sally of Club Sport San Ramon has been practicing myofascial release for years (and introduced me to the art). She advises that if you are limited on time, she would roll rather than stretch. You can roll before or after a workout. Roll before lifting weights for better range of motion and enhanced strength. Rolling the back is the most obvious, but the calves, quads, IT band, glutes and hamstrings will also benefit. Be sure you roll over muscle, rather than bone and avoid rolling on the kidneys too much. Try the positions above to get started.
If you are interested in learning more roller positions or more on the philosophy and biomechanics of rolling, visit Trigger Point Performance Therapy http://tptherapy.com/release-your-strength-intro-biomechanics.php