Foam rolls and stretching (self myofascial release)

The latest trend to hit fitness and flexibility definitely holds serious merit – self myofascial release.

What? Myofascial release is using foam rollers to help with pre and post workout flexibility.  In a nutshell, it’s using simple foam rolls (think pool noodles) to give yourself a nice massage before and after your workout.

Foam rollers can help break up knots in muscle and improve flexibility and function. And who doesn't like a massage?
Foam rollers can help break up knots in muscle and improve flexibility and function. And who doesn’t like a massage?

Self myofascial release works on the fascial system (the tissue that surrounds and wraps each muscle in our body).  By gently rolling on the foam, you can work out adhesions, or “knots” in the muscle.  The rolling and pressure causes the golgi tendon to go into autogenic inhibition.  This allows the pressure to break up knots and tension in the muscle.

Your body molds muscle tissue along the lines of stress it receives.  This process involves inelastic collagen that forms in a random fashion (knots) and does not flow in the same direction as muscle fibers, acting as roadblocks to halt the muscle from moving in its proper fashion, thus decreasing flexibility.

The process is simple.  Gently roll the a muscle group over the foam roller until you feel a tight or sore spot.  Remain on that spot for 30 seconds and move on.

Use self myofascial release (SMR) before and after your workout and make it as part of the warm up and the cool down process.

The rollers aren’t too cheap, but you can get a decent one for about $20-$40 dollars.  I went for the travel size.  It was cheaper. And it’s smaller.  Does the same trick, but I can use it at home and it fits into my gym bag.

Regardless of your level of training, start to incorporate SMR into your pre and post workout routine.  It will help improve your overall flexibility and improve your muscular function.  It should definitely become part of your flexibility training.

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2 thoughts on “Foam rolls and stretching (self myofascial release)

    1. Good question. And no, none that I have found all that helpful. I’m testing for my personal trainer certification on Saturday and NASM has a great approach to flexibility training. Maybe I’ll work up a post on that! Often people focus on stretching, but should also work in balance and agility.

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