Self-MyoFascial Release (SMR) is a term that gets thrown out in the health and fitness world regularly, but what exactly is it and what does it require?
Your fascia is a a thin sheath of fibrous tissue that encloses your muscles. Fascia is utilized for power transfer and lubrication of the muscles. Adhesions, trigger points, and tightness in your fascia can prevent your muscles from extending and and contracting optimally. This dysfunction can creates pain, lack of mobility, and decreased strength.
When there is dysfunction in the fascial system, an easy way to visualize it is thinking of mesh or chicken wire. The dysfunction causes disorientation of the fibers creating a mesh like web, SMR attempts to re-organize the fibers to be inline with the muscle tissue so they are not pulling against each other
SMR is a technique used in replace of, or in conjunction with static stretching to reduce these dysfunctions in the fascia. Some of the tools that are utilized are; foam roller, muscle sticks, tiger tails, lacrosse balls or even a household rolling pin.
We recommend that a patient starts with the tool that they can handle. For most patient population and specifically athletes, we recommend starting with the foam roller on the floor to provide adequate amount of pressure.
However maybe they are too tender and the foam rolling is causing "true" pain, then we would recommend using the foam roller against the wall or a rolling pin/muscle stick/tiger tail where they can control the pressure.
As the SMR progresses and the tension/pain decreases then we start to add in some of the more direct SMR tools such as a lacrosse ball.
Along with SMR, specific exercises are prescribed for their problem area in order to correct any muscle activation pattern issues and any joint dysfunction.
Below is 2 articles that dive deeper into SMR on a more scientific level if you are interested.
The first one looks at all the current research available on SMR, while the second one gets into the science of SMR and how it compares to static stretching.