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  • Writer's pictureTokunbo Atiba

Stretching and Self-Myofascial Release

Updated: Feb 26, 2021

Stretching and Self-Myofascial Release

“I feel TIGHT, RESTRICTED, even a bit ACHY!!!” Seems like a little movement may be in order. Perhaps a Static Stretch or even a touch of Self-Myofascial Release (SMR) may be a simple and practical solution to help your bound up muscles or stiff joints. What are these methods and how can they provide relief? A little education and self-discipline can very well lead you on the path to healthier joints and better overall mobility to decrease your chances of injury moving forward.

Static Stretching

What? When? How?

Individuals that fall to injury from day-to-day activities usually do so due to a lack of FROM (Full Range of Motion) through their respective joints. Standing or sitting with poor posture, repetitive movements, muscle imbalances, past injuries, or simply a sedentary lifestyle are just a few of the many contributing factors that may cause residual shortening of muscle tissue. Let’s take a look at a basic flexibility method that could address your needs.

A seemingly boring or time consuming 30-60 second stretch may prove annoying and perhaps even uncomfortable. However, the benefits of Static Stretching (stretching a muscle to the point of tension) can pay huge dividends down the road. Performing such a stretch can take pressure off of joints as well as improve posture AND physiological function (how our bodies perform from within). This type of stretching method is best performed after a workout, during or after your daily routine, or even on a day of rest and recovery. Here are a few static stretches that anyone from the everyday person to a world class athlete can benefit from by performing on a consistent basis. Try 3 sets of at least 30 seconds with light to moderate tension for optimal results.

Self-Myofascial Release (SMR)

A good massage is relaxing and soothing, but what if there was a way that you could be your very own massage therapist…….somewhat??? SMR can be a convenient and effective way of allowing tight spots, trigger points, or adhesions in the muscles to release and relax. It can be very uncomfortable and seem like “self torture”, however, performing this activity regularly can in most cases provide instant relief when done correctly.

MYO = Muscle, but…..FASCIA???

Imagine that you are in the supermarket meat section looking to purchase a large cut of ham. How is the ham packaged sometimes? In some cases, the ham is wrapped inside some netting. Now…...imagine your muscles are the ham. Wanna take a guess what the fascia is??? Exactly!!! Fascia is a network of connective tissue that encases our muscles, organs, nerves, blood vessels, and even cells within our bodies. So, by applying direct pressure to the fascia, neural receptors will “turn off” allowing muscle fibers to relax, unknot, and realign.

The simplest way to do this is to maintain pressure on the soft tissue or muscle and avoid direct contact with the actual joint or boney surface. Using a foam roller, rolling stick, lacrosse ball, or tennis ball are a few examples of tools that one can use. Once you hit that sensitive spot in the muscle, try to maintain pressure within tolerance (for at least 30 seconds) then you may proceed to roll until the discomfort is reduced. Try 1-2 sets per side per body part as part of a pre, post-exercise, or daily routine. Choosing the right amount of firmness is totally up to the individual's pain threshold. “Productive Pain” or a short-term period of moderate discomfort, in this case, can……..ease the tension. Here are a few examples of tools and techniques you can use to do so.

Examples of some tools that provide Self-Myofascial Release (SMR)

(foam roll, rolling stick or assorted balls)

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