Step 2 - SMR: Self Massage Techniques
Happy Friday! In our previous post we covered the first step in our corrective exercise process which was what? That’s right: Warming up! You know, that thing we all generally don’t make time for. Turns out that these steps are more important than the general “workout” that we hear talked about so often. Corrective exercise can help your longevity and ability to sustain and maintain results.
Now on to today’s topic: self-massage and SMR (also known as Self Myo-Facial Release), which is just a fancy term for loosening up tight muscles. Did I say tight muscles and loosening? Sure did, this is one of the best and easiest methods you can perform yourself to quickly relieve some discomfort in places like your neck, shoulders, mid back, low back, hips and knees, just to name a few. The good news is we are going to cover the gist of this SMR stuff right now so you can get to work.
Paired with the warm up (Step 1), this form of muscle tension release will start to allow you to alleviate some discomforts that are normally associated with day-to-day wear and tear. If you work, have kids, work some more, clean up, drive and walk around then this is definitely going to benefit you!
So, what do we do and what do we use? I will break down common tools we use and best practices with each briefly.
This is like our general applicator tool. Everyone should have one of these! In fact, it’s the one thing everyone should have but nobody uses. Foam rollers are essentially exactly what the name says: a foam tube that’s portable, easy to use and comes in various sizes and densities. What it does is helps to break up muscle tension, knots and tight muscle tissue from things like stress and all those fun activities we do as mentioned above (work!). All you do is place the foam roller underneath the area in question in a comfortable and workable position, roll slowly while applying pressure over the area and you’re almost done.
A couple tips to remember: 1) we want to spend about 2-3 minutes per area, 2-3 times with gentle but firm tension applied and a SLOW rolling method until a target area is found in the muscle. 2) Do not roll non-muscular structures like bones, ligaments and joints, you likely won’t feel any benefits and can cause serious injury; these require different techniques and often specialists which we will have info on later.
Before with foam rollers, we touched on a more general approach. But there are times when pinpointing a very specific area is much, much more effective and can give you quicker relief. In comes the trigger point work!!! We like lacrosse balls the best because of the firmness and density but this can be substituted for other objects with similar dimensions and feels depending on your presences. The great thing is that these are pocket size and small enough to go everywhere with you, along with being cheap and easy to find. I mean, who doesn’t want instant relief while sitting at work or in the car? Anyways, this one we simply place on the area of discomfort and maneuver around and apply pressure to the points in the muscle which are knotted and/or tight (much like a foam roller). Don’t worry, it’s pretty easy to find them and you will know the instant your there. Once you have found your spot, gently but firmly apply pressure for 1-2 minutes, release and repeat a few times before moving on.
We understand that foam rolling & lacrosse ball use are not the most fun parts of exercise, and that it can be downright painful at times. The good news is that this pain is only temporary, and you should feel much better after performing these. Continued use of these techniques will make it much easier, as your muscles become more pliable.
If you want to see some demonstrations, we will be posting some example videos shortly where we target some of the most problematic areas and show you what you can do to Move and feel your best. Happy Father’s Day coming up to all of our fathers out there (including EK)!!
And remember my friends: Work smarter, not harder!