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What is Myofascial Release?

Updated: Aug 6, 2018

All female foam rolling class with ocean view

If you have been around our gym before you’ve probably noticed the large stack of foam cylinders, or have seen a few of our lacrosse balls rolling around (no we are not starting a lacrosse league). These are actually highly effective tools for a type of massage known as myofascial release, that we perform all the time at La Mision Fitness & Yoga.

Myofascial release has been a hot topic in the fitness industry for the past few years, but the general idea has been around for much longer. Essentially myofascial release ( also known as self-myofascial release, or SMR) is a way for someone to give themselves a massage using tools like lacrosse balls, tennis balls and foam rollers. Lying, sitting and rolling on these items mimics the hands of a massage therapist. This does a few things to our muscles. It can work out muscle knots or fascial adhesions, increase blood flow to isolated muscle groups, and ultimately increase our mobility.

So what is fascia, and why does it need to be released?

Fascia is a thin, fibrous layer of connective tissue that lies underneath our skin and on top of our muscles(similar to a sock). It’s full role in the body is under some debate, but mostly it holds our skin to our muscles, plays a role in joint stability and assists in reflexive contractions. Over time, as we move, experience injuries or develop movement habits, small micro traumas happen to this fascia layer. These traumas form scar tissue which then can form an adhesion (also called a knot or trigger point). These are basically “pulls” in the sock-like fascia that produces tight, or even painful movement. While not initially problematic, if ignored adhesions can build up and result in large, tense/tender spots on the body that dramatically limit our mobility and affect our posture. This then can lead to more severe injuries down the road.

What can you do about Fascia adhesion?

Fortunately there’s a solution to fascial adhesions. While the exact mechanisms are unclear SMR has been shown to relieve adhesions, as well as exercise induced soreness. Most practitioners believe that foam rolling or other forms of SMR smooth out the adhesive tissue, increases blood flow to the affected area, and maybe even helps to disengage hyperactive nerve impulses. These actions work to release and loosen damaged fascia and relax tense muscles, very similar to what massage therapists are able to accomplish with their hands. The increased blood flow also helps to flush out damaged and dead cell tissues in the fascia layer.

In order to educate our members more on the many benefits of Self-Myofascial Release we are starting a short introductory class every Wednesday morning at 8:30.

Start your day off right, and learn more about how foam rolling can help move, feel and live better!

-Corey Evans

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