Self Myofascial Massage is something Skye and I try to practice on a regular basis. In fact, I just finished up a 30 minute session!
Although not a new concept by any stretch, it seems to be popping up in popularity these days across the spectrum of movement enthusiasts, alternative therapists and those looking to reduce injury and repair damage without surgery.
A few years ago, while in the middle of the death race, I become the most incapacitated physically that I have ever been in my life…trying to kick some ass doing this tough race while limping and wincing for miles in shear pain with every single step. Skye enlightened me to the fact that it was my tight IT bands acting up (the group of tissue that extends from the outside of the pelvis, over the hip and knee, and inserting just below the knee run from your hip to the outside of your knee). And because I never want to feel that again or not be able to flow through a race or life… the interest in myofascial release peaked!
Myofascial release has been known to improve flexibility, function, performance, and reduce injuries all the while helping to relieve pain. All you need is a ball or a roller of sorts (read on!). Self-myofascial release is a proven method of improving the flexibility and mobility of tight muscles and restricted joints. Self-myofascial release is based on two principles:
1. The breaking up of fascia (the soft-tissue component of all connective tissue in the body); and
2. The manipulation of certain neuromuscular receptors to release muscle tightness.
Just note that like stretching or yoga, self myofascial release doesn’t yield marked improvements overnight; you’ll need to be diligent and stick with it (although you’ll definitely notice acute benefits).
These techniques are actually very simple to learn. Basically, you just use your body weight to sandwich the roller or ball between the soft tissue to be released and the floor. Roll at a slow pace and actually stop and bear down on the most tender spots (“hot spots”). Once the pain in these spots diminishes, roll the other areas.
Those tight, knotted bundles of muscle fiber and fascia that people accumulate from bad posture, muscle imbalances, excessive sitting, and improper movement patterns or excessive running or hiking without proper range of motion work and mobility work….yeah ya know those right?!! These knots harm us. They reduce performance. They promote bad form and joint degeneration. They need to be eradicated, and while using these little balls of fire on our bodies really can cause some physical pain, this is a good thing because it means that we’re taking care of those nasty knots.
I have rolled out on tennis balls when I slept on my neck wrong and I can’t move my head the next morning, my twin sis used her kid’s baseball to roll out her neck and back pain when she flipped her truck over after hitting a patch of black ice and Skye is diligent about rolling out his whole body for overall prehab. We have even been using golf balls (as Laird Hamilton has demonstrated or this morning a foot massager) to roll out our feet….did you know that your feet are filled with over 7,000 nerve endings that connect with the nerves throughout the rest of our bodies! No wonder barefoot walking is soooo very important!
So for no investment, no money, that you don’t have, going to a massage therapist, you can help heal yourself and help prevent injury! You don’t even need to buy a “foam roller”….the useful roller that is marketed by the fitness industry …they are nice but save your money and get creative! So, grab that tennis ball or softball or lacrosse ball and start rolling away! We have been known to use any of the above as well as golf balls, pvc piping with a little fabric for cushion duct taped on, indo board rollers or medicine balls.
Unless you’ve got a live in masseuse, these are essential items for ANY active person anyway, and they’re cheap, so there’s no excuse not to have them. Do these after a workout, in the morning, or, if you’re super tight and in a ton of pain, every day.
Now as I train for a few more obstacle races this year….I am being reminded that I need to be more consistent with this practice!!!