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The Benefits of Self Myofascial Massage

By Tanner | In Training | on June 28, 2012

If you’re not doing self-myofascial release work before and after each workout, you are missing out on the one thing, if done

properly, shown to increase flexibility, mobility, and performance.  If you using the foam roller, muscle activation techniques and lengthening exercises we teach, then you can affirm everything I write hereafter.  When we (the instructors and you) have spoke about your lack of mobility or flexibility in your hips or shoulders or calves or whatever joint(s), we probably took the time to demonstrate for you a few corrective exercises to get you on track for improvement.  I know many of you who’ve experienced corrections in imbalances and range of motion.  Shawni, Pedrina, Kelly L. and…  wait, I’m having a difficult time thinking of any of you guys who do this work regularly.  Ok, one… Shawn K.  But it took injury after injury to get him to.  Oddly fellas, it seems to be the ladies that listen and actually do the work and therefore, gain the desired results.  You fellas that can’t overhead squat because your pec minors are so tight you can’t hold a bar overhead should really be paying attention now.  You know who you are hardheads.  Your lack of commitment to this part of our programming has you stuck in rut that you could easily get out of.  I know it isn’t just the guys.  I’m kidding…  plenty of you on the fairer side have poorly developed upper back and shoulders.  Your posture from hours of sitting behind a desk have your shoulders more round than a beach ball.  If you’re interested in correcting these things, read on.  Better yet, attend class tomorrow (Wednesday).

THE BENEFITS

  • Increased flexibility
  • Increased range of motion
  • Decreased muscle soreness & joint stress
  • Increased mind / muscle feedback
  • Decreased neuro-hypertonicity (tension from CNS)
  • Improved strength and performance

THE PHYSIOLOGY
Muscles contain two types of neuro receptors.  The spindles and golgi tendon organs (gto).  Spindles are parallel to the muscle

fibers, while gto are found at the tendinous junction.  The muscle spindles monitor changes in muscle fibers and the CNS’s interaction with the fibers.  When triggered, the spindles cause the myotatic stretch reflex.  A shortening of the muscle tissue that can causes inflexibility, lack of mobility and even pain.  Golgi tendon organs are located at the musculotendinous junction, where the tendons and muscles verge.  They sense changes in muscular tension.  Stimulation of the GTO’s past a certain threshold inhibits the muscle

Reducing muscle tissue tension with myofascial release techniques decreases pain associated with inflexibility and limited range of motion while improving the same range of mobility.  This improved function of the muscle and associated joint, coupled with the better CNS/muscle connection, inherently improves performance.

The science may seem complicated, but the causality is simple.  If you foam roll, your fitness and health will improve.  While it may not be as exciting as a sexy metcon, exhausting as back squats, or as fun rope climbs, we don’t dedicate a full day of it each week to bore you.  I don’t do or program “busy work”.  If I didn’t think this part of our training was worth the while, would I dedicate this much effort to a post on it?

FREQUENCY

Everyday.  At least 3 times per day.  One therapeutic session, one pre-workout session and one post workout session.   

HOW TO:  THERAPEUTIC, PRE WORKOUT, and POST WORKOUT
Like stretching, self myofascial release techniques differ with purpose.  Using the foam roller during the day, aside from your workout will increase the effectiveness of your flexibility and mobility program ten fold.  A therapeutic session should be slow and deliberate.  Stop on any painful spots and hold there for 30-45 seconds.  Roll all four sides of the body… front, back, and both sides.

Pre-workout roller work should be the most specific, be stimulating to the CNS and focus on preparing you for the upcoming movements.  In other words, if you are squatting, your release work would still include the upper body, but the focus would be on the lower.

The roller work should be for improving flexibility and mobility of the squat.  This means your emphasis will be on the IT Bands (from hip to knee only), glute work, and lengthening the calves.  If your workout involves opening of the shoulders (see workout below), pulling or pressing, your roller massage should be used to reduce tension in the pecs (especially the pec minors), delts, lats, traps, biceps, triceps, and rhomboids.  In other words, all the muscles that support and actuate the shoulder.  The number one limiting factor on the overhead squat or snatch has nothing to do with the legs or even the squat.  It is tight pec minors.  If tight, they disallow the shoulders to open far enough to support weight over and behind the head the way an OHS requires.

The post workout roll should also lend focus to the worked muscles, but be calming to the CNS.  It should be coupled with a structured stretching regimen, like the Core 4, taught by CFW instructors and explained in depth in the book Stretch to Win.

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