You are on page 1of 9

Feel Better for 10 Bucks Self-myofascial release: no doctor required!

by Eric Cressey and Mike Robertson Ten bucks doesn't buy much nowadays. You could pick up a day pass at some commercial gym, or pull off the co-pay on a visit to the chiropractor. If you're lucky, you might even be able to swing a mediocre Russian mail order bride. Or, you could just go the safe route with your $10, take our advice, and receive a lifetime of relief from the annoying tightness so many athletes and weekend warriors feel from incessantly beating on their bodies. Don't worry, this isn't an infomercial. We just want you to pick up a foam roller for self-myofascial release and deep tissue massage. How does it work? Self-myofascial release (SMR) on a foam roller is possible thanks to the principle known as autogenic inhibition. You've likely heard of the Golgi Tendon Organ (GTO) at some point in your training career. The GTO is a mechanoreceptor found at the muscle-tendon junction; it's highly sensitive to changes in tension in the muscle. When tension increases to the point of high risk of injury (i.e. tendon rupture), the GTO stimulates muscle spindles to relax the muscle in question. This reflex relaxation is autogenic inhibition. The GTO isn't only useful in protecting us from injuries, but it also plays a role in making proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) stretching techniques highly effective. The muscle contraction that precedes the passive stretch stimulates the GTO, which in turn causes relaxation that facilitates this passive stretch and allows for greater range of motion. With foam rolling, you can simulate this muscle tension, thus causing the GTO to relax the muscle. Essentially, you get many of the benefits of stretching and then some. It's also fairly well accepted that muscles need to not only be strong, but pliable as well. Regardless of whether you're a bodybuilder, strength athlete, or ordinary weekend warrior, it's important to have strength and optimal function through a full range of motion. While stretching will improve the length of the muscle, SMR and massage work to adjust the tone of the muscle. Performing one while ignoring the other is like reading T-Nation but never actually lifting weights to put the info to good use. What's SMR good for? Traditional stretching techniques simply cause transient increases in muscle length (assuming that we don't exceed the "point of no return" on the stress-strain curve, which

SMR on the foam roller offers an effective. and convenient way to both reduce adhesion and scar tissue accumulation and eliminate what's already present on a daily basis. on the other hand. Just note that like stretching. simply apply more of your body weight to the roller. inexpensive. Once the pain in these spots diminishes. In order to increase the pressure on the soft tissue. The simplest way to do this is by either moving from working both . you'll need to be diligent and stick with it (although you'll definitely notice acute benefits). Roll at a slow pace and actually stop and bear down on the most tender spots ("hot spots"). from both a financial and convenience standpoint. you need to get your mind out of the gutter and find a new favorite website! Techniques These techniques are actually very simple to learn. we can't all expect to get ART done on a frequent basis. Unfortunately. offers these benefits and breakdown of soft tissue adhesions and scar tissue. Basically.will lead to unwanted deformities). Get to work on those tight muscles and you'll definitely see appreciable returns on your efforts! So let's get started! What you need to get: 1) 6" foam roller (either the 1' long or 3' long version) 2) Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing" CD 3) A leopard-skin thong 4) Two quarts of baby oil to lube yourself up Note: If you thought we were really serious on numbers two through four. Those of you who have been following our Neanderthal No More series will definitely be interested in the valuable role foam rollers can play in correcting postural afflictions. you just use your body weight to sandwich the roller between the soft tissue to be released and the floor. roll the other areas. SMR on the foam roller. foam rolling doesn't yield marked improvements overnight. One mustn't look any further than the overwhelmingly positive results numerous individuals have had with Active Release Techniques (ART) to recognize the value of eliminating adhesions and scar tissue.

shorten your stroke a little bit. Demonstrations and Descriptions Hamstrings: You'll want to try these with the feet turned in. out. Note: Those with circulatory problems and chronic pain diseases (e. instead of working your quadriceps from top to bottom all in one shot. though. For instance. fibromyalgia) should NOT use foam rollers.legs at once to one leg. . there's a concomitant increase in tension. By working the top half first. Work the top half first. you'll really want to be bearing down on the roller with most (if not all) of your body weight. As with almost anything in the training world. you decrease the ensuing tension at the bottom. (Insert your own joke here. This is an important strategy because as you get closer to the distal muscle-tendon junction. Be careful to avoid bony prominences. then roll from the base of the glutes to the knee.) One other technique we’ve found to be beneficial is to work from the proximal (nearest the center of the body) to the distal (away from the center of the body) attachment of the muscle.g. essentially taking care of the problem in advance. and pointing straight ahead to completely work the entire hamstring complex. there's considerable room for experimentation. and after it has loosened up. Balance on your hands with your hamstrings resting on the roller. so you'll definitely want to play around with the roller to see what works best for you. To increase loading. move on to the bottom half. As you get more comfortable with SMR. or by "stacking" one of your legs on top of the other to increase the tension. you can stack one leg on top of the other.

(In the photo. Mike would want to lift his right hip to externally rotate the left femur). so we've included pictures from two different angles. In the starting position. just shift the position of the contralateral pelvis. you'll be lying on your side with the roller positioned just below your pelvis. Without a doubt. From here. To do so. . Try this with the femur both internally and externally rotated. this one will be the most painful for most of you. Stack the opposite leg on top to increase loading. Tensor Fascia Latae and Iliotibial Band: These are a little tricky. Roll from the upper thigh into the hip. you'll want to roll all the way down the lateral aspect of your thigh until you reach the knee.Hip Flexors: Balance on your forearms with the top of one thigh on the roller.

From this position. You'll even get a little vastus medialis work in while you're there.Adductors: Balance on your forearms with the top of one of your inner thighs resting on the roller. though! Quadriceps: This one is quite similar to the hip flexor version. You can perform this roll with either one or two legs on the roller. you're just rolling further down on the thigh. Watch out for your twig and berries on this one. . roll all the way down to the adductor tubercle (just above the medial aspect of the knee) to get the distal attachments.

but sit on the roller instead. Stack one leg on top of the other to increase loading. is similar in positioning to the hamstrings roll. Enough said. Roll your rump. Try this with the toes up (dorsiflexion) and down (plantarflexion). too. Balance on one elbow with the same side leg on the ground and roll that lateral aspect of your glutes from top to bottom. you're just rolling knee to ankle.Gluteus Medius and Piriformis: Lie on your side with the "meaty" part of your lateral glutes (just posterior to the head of the femur) resting on the roller. Gluteus Maximus: Set up like you're going to roll your hamstrings. Calves: This. .

Peroneals: This one is similar to the TFL/ITB roll. we're just working on the lower leg now. . lie supine with the roller positioned under your midback. You'll want to emphasize one side at a time with a slight lean to one side. Roll along the lateral aspect of the lower leg from the knee to the ankle. Thoracolumbar Fascia: With your arms folded across your chest. but you're working on your shins instead. Elevate the glutes and roll from the base of the scapulae to the top of the pelvis.Tibialis Anterior: This is just like the quad roll.

. reversing direction when you reach the level of the armpits. Middle and Lower Trapezius. Rhomboids: With your arms behind your head (not pulling on the neck). Roll upward. The roller should be positioned at the attachment of the lat on the scapula in the starting position. your glutes should be on the ground. lie supine with roller positioned in the middle of your back.Thoracic Extensors. You'll want to roll toward the attachment on the humerus (roll toward the armpit). Latissimus Dorsi and Teres Major: Lie on your side with the same side arm overhead. This is an excellent intervention for correcting kyphosis.

Triceps: Start with your body in the same position as you would for the latissimus dorsi. we're only talking about ten bucks here. just look under the couch cushions for change and you're halfway there! . and restoration efforts. this article has been proof enough that SMR on the foam roller is an excellent adjunct to your training. even if it isn't. however. diet. people! For crying out loud. the arm on this side should be abducted to about 135° (halfway between completely overhead and where it would be at the completion of a lateral raise). Roll toward the humeral head (toward the armpit). supplementation. Wrap-Up Hopefully. Now. And. you'll want to place the roller at the top of your triceps (near your armpit) and your noggin on top of your arm to increase the tension (and no. you don’t have to be that geeky kid from Jerry Maguire to know the human head weighs 8 pounds!) Pectoralis Major and Anterior Deltoid: Lie prone with the roller positioned at an angle slightly to one side of the sternum.