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5 Ways to Get More Out of Self Myofascial Release

With the popularity of self myofascial release skyrocketing over the last decade, we’re seeing people rolling all over the place.  And for good reason…

Foam rolling helps you feel and move better.

Foam rollers are great, and I have talked about other self myofascial release tools that I highly recommend you try.  But it’s not always just about WHAT you are using to roll out, it’s also about HOW you are performing self myofascial release that is important.

If you combine some of our basic understanding of functional anatomy with our understanding of movement, we can really enhance how you perform self myofascial release to get even better results.

5 Ways to Get More Out of Self Myofascial release

To illustrate this concept, I wanted to share 5 videos demonstrating how you can enhance how you perform self myofascial release.

Reduce the Surface Area

My first video discusses the concept of reducing the surface area while rolling.  Again, foam rollers are great.  But depending on the tissue you are focusing on when rolling, you may want to reduce the surface area.

When you get used to foam rolling and are looking for a deeper sensation, putting the same amount of body weight on a smaller surface area will obviously increase the applied pressure.

This is also helpful when you are foam rolling an area that is hard to place full body weight on the roller, like the calf, as you will be able to apply more pressure.

 

Roll in 360 Degrees

In the next video, I discuss the ability to use a mobility sphere to be apply to easily alter the direction of rolling, instead of just back and forth using a foam roller.  This is one of my favorite progressions.

 

Hold a Spot

Often times when rolling, you’ll find one spot that is really tender.

Once you find a tender spot, combine our treatment technique of sustained pressure on the area.  Stop rolling and hold pressure on that spot for 10-30 seconds.  The goal is not to crush the spot, but rather to gentle hold and increase pressure as the tenderness subsides.

You’ll be surprise how the spot will decrease in tenderness after holding the spot.

 

Add Active Motion

The next variation is also a simulation of our treatment techniques, this time a pin and stretch.  Again, when you find a tender spot, hold it for a duration, then add some active motion of that muscle group.

Focus on slowly moving the muscle through full range of motion while sustain pressure.

Move Another Muscle

On a similar note, you can also pin one muscle and stretch an adjacent muscle.  The example I use in the video below is the hamstring and adductor group.  You can pin the adductor and slowly flex and extend the knee to move the hamstring.

 

These examples are just 5 of the many ways we enhance self myofascial release with our patients and clients at Champion.  I’d love to hear what you do as well.  By combining some of our treatment concepts, we think you can really get a lot more out of your self myofascial release.

If you like this type of content, be sure to follow me on Instagram and Facebook, I’ve been sharing a lot of videos like this:

 

2 New Self Myofascial Release Tools to Try

In my recent article on the best self myofascial release tools, I overviewed a variety of tools that people can use based on their goals and needs.

I mentioned a couple of newer self myofascial release tools that I have started using instead of a simple foam roller.  I still like foam rollers, but think that many people could benefit even more by upgrading to these newer tools.

A lot of people have been asking me about these newer tools, so I wanted to film a couple of videos showing you more.

 


Acumobility Eclipse Foam Roller and Mobility Ball

 


Mobilitas Mobility Sphere

 


Try these two new products and I think you’ll be impressed.  And be sure to check out my other recommendations of foam rollers, massage sticks, and other mobility tools.

 

 

 

The Best Self Myofascial Release Tools

Self myofascial release tools, such as foam rollers, trigger point balls, and massage sticks, have become some of the most popular tools used for corrective exercises, fitness, and sports performance.  In fact, performing self myofascial release has become almost a uniform component in the majority of fitness and sports performance programs.

You can certainly argue the exact physiological benefit of performing self myofascial release.  Ironically we are likely not really “releasing” fascia.

However, it’s hard to argue the benefits of self myofascial release.

Two recent studies in International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy and Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapy have been published that analyzed the current state of research and conclude that self myofascial release:

  • Increases mobility and joint range of motion
  • Reduces post-workout soreness and DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness)
  • Allows for greater workout performance in future workouts
  • May lead to improved vascular function and parasympathetic nervous system function

“Simply put, self myofascial release has been proven to help you feel and move better.” [click to tweet]

In order to get started, I wanted to share my years of experience with self myofascial release tools.  There are so many foam rollers, trigger point tools, and massage sticks out there these days.
I’ve tried nearly all of them and these are what I consider the best self myofascial release tools.

Best Self Myofascial Release Tools

Over the years I have tried a ridiculous amount of different self myofascial release tools, some great, some awful, and some just a rip off.  Luckily, new products emerge all the time and continue to improve.

I’ve learned a couple of things that are important:

  • There are different types of self myofascial release tools for different needs, body parts, and intensities.  Building your own “kit” is probably going to be the most effective.  Trying to use just a foam roller on everything is going to not work well.
  • You tend to build up a tolerance to self myofascial release and want to upgrade to more advanced foam rollers, trigger point balls, and massage sticks.  Start with the basics and advance overtime.

Best Foam Rollers

Amazon Basics High-Density Round Foam Roller self myofascial release - amazon foam roller

The first place to is a basic high density foam roller.  This could be the cheapest and most versatile tool you get.  Amazon has started to make their own version, which is a great price.  You’ll find various sizes.  I’ve never personally gotten much use of the large 36-inch versions and tend to favor the 18-inch version.

TriggerPoint GRID Foam Rollerself myofascial release - grid foam roller

The basic high density foam roller is a great place to start to get used to foam rolling, but quickly gets pretty easy.  You’ll want to upgrade to a more firm foam roller in increase the intensity.  My preferred choice is the GRID foam roller from TriggerPoint.  I’ve been using this foam roller for years with continued success.  It has a rigid hollow core that increases the intensity very well.  This is worth the extra investment as it will likely be your main foam roller for some time.

Mobilitas Mobility Sphere
self myofascial release - mobility sphere foam roller

Somewhere between a foam roller and a trigger point ball, I actually really like using 5” mobility balls.  Because of the round shape, the contact area is smaller so the amount of force to the area is larger.  Plus, you can use into in multiple planes of motion because it is a ball instead of a roller.  This is something I personally use.  You can get into smaller areas, like your chest, but I use this just as much as a standard foam roller.  There are a few but the one I use and recommend is the Mobilitas Mobility Sphere.

Acumobility Eclipse Foam Rollerself myofascial release - acumobility foam roller

I was recently turned onto the Eclipse Foam Roller from Acumobility and have been impressed.  I was intrigued by the design and wanted to try it myself.  I’m not a big fan of foam rollers with ridges, as I just feel they don’t do much and concept is more of a marketing gimmick.  But Acumobility has a made a great advanced foam roller that includes a firm middle section that can encompass a body part really well.  It’s a really unique design and a great tool for advanced foam rolling.

 

Best Massage Roller Stick

While foam rollers are the primary self myofascial release tool for most needs, there are body parts that simply don’t do as well and need a massage stick tool.  The next tool you should add to your self myofascial release tool kit is a massager stick roller.  There are a few popular massage sticks on the market, and as it is with most things, I actually don’t prefer the two most popular massage sticks.

TheraBand Roller Massager+self myofascial release - theraband massage stick roller

The original massage stick began with plastic pieces and did a fairly well job, but newer tools have used a more grippy surface that I feel is far more effective. A plastic roller is just placing pressure downward on the tissue, where the grip on the TheraBand Roller Massager+ seems to also create a tissue traction with the friction produced.  This is a great product for areas like the forearms and feet, but also areas where you want to apply more pressure than what you can with just body weight, like the quads, hamstrings, and calves.  Plus, this has been the massage roller featured in many of the research reports.

 

Best Trigger Point Release Tools

In addition to foam rollers and massage sticks.  Trigger point release tools are another must have addition to your self myofascial release tool kit.  Essentially, these just tend to be smaller self myofascial release tools that can get into tighter areas.

Lacrosse Ballself myofascial release - lacrosse ball trigger point tool

Yup, that’s it, just a lacrosse ball.  People have tried to make better versions of trigger point balls, but nothing beats the affordable lacrosse ball.  Great material, density, and durability.  This is a great place to start.  Get a couple so you can use two at once one places like your spine.

Acumobility Mobility Ballself myofascial release - acumobility ball trigger point tool

Acumobility, the maker of the Eclipse Roller above, has another great tool, their Mobility Ball.  This is made from a great dense material, but has a flat bottom that allows you to keep this in one spot on the floor or even against the wall.  This really helps to provide firm pressure while performing movements of the muscle group.  This is a great upgrade from the lacrosse ball.

Trigger Point Wandself myofascial release - trigger point wand

Sometimes an area is hard to reach, such as your neck or back.  That’s where sometimes a trigger point wand comes in handy.  I would definitely consider this a speciality tool, however a very popular choice.

Foot Rubz Massage Ballself myofascial release - foot rubz massage ball

Another speciality tool, but something that I wanted to include as I really love, is the hand and foot massage ball from Foot Rubz.  This is a smaller trigger point ball perfect for the hands and feet.  You can use a lacrosse ball or even the TheraBand Massage Roller above for these areas, but I feel this is slightly better and worth it for many.  (I’m literally using one as I type this haha…)

 

Create Your Own Self Myofascial Release Tool Kit

All of the above options are great choices.  I would recommend getting one of each of the foam rollers, massage sticks, and trigger point tools.  Together, these cover pretty much all of your self myofascial release needs.

If you are interested, I also have an Inner Circle webinar on how I perform self myofascial release.

 

 

How to Perform Self-Myofascial Release

The latest Inner Circle webinar recording on my How to Perform Self-Myofascial Release is now available.

 

How to Perform Self-Myofascial Release

Self Myofascial Release SystemThis month’s Inner Circle webinar reviews my system of performing self-myofascial release.  As with anything else, there is a right way, wrong way, and a better way to perform self-myofascial release.  In this webinar I will:

  • Discuss why we use self-myofascial release
  • Review the different types of tools you can use and my recommendations on what I think is best
  • Overview how I perform self-myofascial release with my clients, patients, and athletes
  • Discuss when to perform self-myofascial release

To access this webinar:

And if you’re looking for my recommendations, click here to see my list of the best foam rollers and self myofascial release tools.

Foam Rolling for Recovery

Foam rolling has become a popular component of most personal training and sports performance program.  It is simple to perform with cheap equipment.  But more importantly “it works.”

There has been quite a bit of debate on what “it works” means to different people.  This was probably perpetuated by naming the use of a foam roller as “self-myofascial release.”  Many have argued that foam rolling does nothing to “release” the fascia as the ability to deform fascia significantly is well beyond the means of a simple piece of foam or PVC pipe.

At times, that has lead to the knee-jerk reaction of some to essentially say that foam rolling does nothing to the fascia, thus must be useless and a waste of time to perform.  Too bad it wasn’t just called “self-massage.”

Many, including some prominent strength coaches, have argued back saying again that “it simple works” because people feel better after foam rolling.

I couldn’t agree more.  However, I’m not a big fan of just say “it just works.”  I want more than that.

 

Foam Rolling Helps Recovery

self-myofascial release for recoveryWhile foam rolling has become popular, it still is used most often as a way to prepare for training.  However, a recent research report was published in the Journal of Athletic Training that looked at the effect of foam rolling after training on delayed onset muscles soreness (DOMS) and performance.

In the study, 8 collegiate men performed a 10×10 squat protocol to completely exhaust their quads and cause DOMS.  The groups performed this two times, once with performing foam rolling afterward and another time without foam rolling.  In the experimental group, foam rolling was performed immediately after squatting, as well as 24- and 48-hours later.

Foam rolling for recoveryThe foam rolling procedure consisted of 2 rounds of rolling for 45 seconds each over the quads, adductors, hamstrings, IT band, and Glutes.

Results of the study showed that DOMS was significantly reduced when foam rolling was performed.  However, they also discovered 30 meter sprint time, broad-jump distance, and change-of-direction speed were all negatively effected by the presence of DOMS, but the impact was lower if they performed foam rolling.

 

Implications

Based on this article, I’m not sure we are any closer to understanding “why” foam rolling works, however we do understand more of “how” foam rolling works.

Foam rolling isn’t just a way to prepare for training, but also a useful tool to recover from training.

Foam rolling should be performed both before and after training, and likely even on off days after training.  Doing so will reduce the amount of soreness you have after a hard session and allow you to train hard or perform better next time.  This is important for everyone from the personal training client to the in-season athlete.

Put simply, foam rolling helps you recover faster and then perform better, I know everyone at Champion is definitely still foam rolling!

 

How I Use Foam Rolling and Self-Myofascial Release

This month’s Inner Circle webinar will be on how I use foam rolling and self-myofascial release in my programs.  I’ll be going over specific techniques using a variety of tools to perform a comprehensive self-myofascial release program.  You can simple roll back and forth, but there are better ways to incorporate self-myofascial release to be even more effective.

The webinar will be on Thursday March 19th at 8:00 PM EST but I’ll record it for those that can’t make it live.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Self Myofascial Release for the Teres Major

Self-myofascial release teres majorA couple of months ago I wrote an article about the importance of the teres major muscle and how I often find it an area of tightness in my clients.  I recommended focusing on that area during manual therapy and some of your self myofascial release techniques.

I’ve had a lot of readers ask for more information so I wanted to share a video of how I perform some of the self-myofascial techniques.  My preferred technique is to use a trigger point ball or lacrosse ball against a wall (read my recommendations for which self myofascial release tools to use).

I see the teres major limiting horizontal adduction, arm elevation, and disassociation of the shoulder and scapula.  Again, if you haven’t read my previous article on the teres major go back and read more about this.  For the self-myofascial release techniques, we’ll work on these three areas.

I always start by rolling out the area and pausing on any tight/sore spots.  Most people stop there, but I think it is important to incorporate some movement with the self-myofascial release techniques.  In this video, I show you how I work the teres major during both horizontal adduction and arm elevation.  It is pretty hard to stretch the teres major, but I usually recommend following the self myofascial release for the teres major up with the cross body genie stretch.  This could also work well for the latissimus and even posterior rotator cuff.

 

Self Myofascial Release for the Teres Major