Thursday, February 22, 2007

Improving flexibility and function with Self Myofascial Release

What is Self Myofascial Release (SMFR)? It's a flexibility technique where muscles are rolled over a foam roll (or some other cylindrical object at home), using body pressure to massage micro-adhesions in the fibrous tissue that surrounds and separates muscle tissue.

What does this really mean? Massaging your own muscles to get rid of muscle knots, improving flexibility and helping you to feel and function better after your workout.

When you workout, you cause damage by creating micro-tears in the muscle. Don't worry, it's a good thing. Your body heals by using protein to patch it up, also creating muscle density and increasing your metabolism. However, that protein patch produces a knot in the muscle, making it tight and inflexible. It also changes the way the muscle works, decreasing it's efficiency in a contraction. When a muscle isn't working right (or the way it's supposed to), your amazing body will find a better way. The path of least resistance.

This path of least resistance in recruiting other muscles to do the job produces joint pain, chronic muscle tension and pain and poor posture. When working out in a physical state like this, you can set yourself up for disappointment because your aren't achieving the results you're looking for and ultimately, you could be injured during an exercise.

A little visual, if you will:

This is the way your muscle fibers should look


This is how they look after a workout

Lovely, isn't it? The concept, not my drawing. Anyway, to remedy the predicament your muscles are in all you have to do is roll the knots out, making the muscle nice, smooth and flat again. Then you start this process all over again with the next workout. This is why SMFR is a very important component of a flexibility and warm-up (and cool-down, for that matter) program.

This technique will make your muscles and body work better, helping you to achieve the fitness goal you're working so hard at. Plus, it really makes you feel better afterward by reducing your post-workout soreness. Now, who doesn't want that?

1 comment:

stefanierj said...

I remember the first few times I saw SMFR on my training sheets and had no clue what it means. I am eager to try it--just waiting on getting a foam roll to try it with! :)