Often times pain is caused by tight fascia and muscle. The myofascial junction (the point where the muscle and the fascia meet) is often an area of tenderness and increased tone (resting tightness). While stretching is important in injury prevention, it alone cannot address this area. In conditions like patellar tendonitis, IT band tendonitis, or with simple delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) myofascial release can be essential in eliminating pain.
There are many ways to perform self myofascial release. In the context of this article, I’ll focus on the use of a foam roll. This is a relatively mild-moderate tool and may not alleviate small points of tightness in the muscle/fascia. If you feel that it it not “reaching that spot” you might want to progress to a tennis or lacrosse ball (to be discussed in a later post). There are different levels of “firmness” available and this is often described as density. I’d recommend a moderate density and you don’t need to invest in any of the rolls with odd patterns/edges – these are more gimmick than they are based in research. Keep it simple and you’ll see progress.
You can roll over any muscle/connective tissue in the body. The keys to remember for safety are to avoid rolling across joints or areas of skin damage (bruises, open cuts, rashes) as this can cause harm. Traditionally, you should roll across the length of the muscle, and focus over sore spots. The duration of the treatment can vary, but about 1-3 minutes is usually sufficient to cause significant relaxation and lengthening in the muscle/fascia. Try to roll after a good warm-up so that you have enough circulation to the muscles. It can also be done after a workout to decrease the amount of soreness. (In other words, just don’t roll when you’re “cold” and have been sitting)
Listed below are the links to YouTube videos that I’ve posted on several muscles in the body. If you need more of a description, drop me an email and I’d be happy to elaborate!
- Hamstrings: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUC9mVQWDxQ
- Quadriceps: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BRMbTr5HX6k
- Latissimus Dorsi: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OwtQwDgr_II
- Gluteal/Piriformis: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OxkuKMhS_p8
- ITB (illiotibial band): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LeEqGuT2ue4
More muscles to come! For the Gymkana members reading this, I’ve donated 4 foam rolls to the team (located in the study lounge). Please take care of them and use them often after practice!