I’ll bet you hadn’t even heard of “Myofascial Release” 5 or 10 years ago, but if you google it now you get over 5 million hits in less than a second. Everyone seems to be talking about myofascial release as a way to release muscle tension and restore health range of motion, so what exactly is it?
The term refers to a broad range of techniques that involve manipulating muscles and the connective tissue, or fascia, that surrounds, connects, and interpenetrates them.
Self-myofascial release (SMFR) involves techniques you can do yourself, using your hands or tools like tennis or massage balls, a foam roller or a yoga block to generate therapeutic stretch, compression, or movement between muscle layers. It offers key benefits including:
- Restoring the pliability of our muscles and fascia, and releasing light adhesions between tissue layers which can restrict our range of motion
- Boosting blood and lymphatic circulation
- Reawakening healthy neuromuscular connections in tight, tender, or inhibited regions of the body
SMFR is a fantastic complement to yoga practice. It works alongside strength work, stretches, mindfulness and embodiment practices to give us another way to experience our bodies. Anyone can access the benefits of myofascial release, provided we observe a few simple principles:
1) Apply gentle pressure to soft tissue (muscles and fascia) not bones or nerves.
2) An area may feel tender, but avoid existing injuries, broken skin, areas of swelling, pain and any sharp, shooting or radiating sensations.
3) Don’t overstay your welcome. As soon as you feel a change in sensation, and it may only take a couple of breaths, move on. You should not be sore afterwards.
4) Seek advice from a healthcare professional if you are pregnant, have osteoporosis, or any significant medical conditions.
Interested? Why not give it a try in one of our myofascial release classes and see what you think.