Self Myofascial release (SMR) sounds super sexy, is a popping word in the fitness community & everybody is doing it, but seriously do you know what or why you’re doing it? And like Luda (aka Ludacris) It’s about time me and my homies rollout….and roll responsibly! SMR can involve a buffet of tools like foam rollers, balls, sticks, etc and all the other fine fangled gadgets that have been developed.
Now instead of going into mad details and geeking out over the sympathetic and parasympathetic response, yada, yada, yada, which seems to be the culprit essentially in making you “feel” better, I’ll try not to bore you and make this short with some quick bullet points to roll with:)
JUST FORGET ROLLING YOUR IT BAND***
I said it. So HUGE misconception, but your IT band is an insanely thick, remarkably strong, fibrous tendon that research has shown cannot be released or manipulated by foam rolling. BUT! There’s hope yall. For the IT band, work on the primary muscles that attach to the IT band first — specifically the gluteus maximus & the tensor fasciae latae aka TFL (a muscle that runs along the outer edge of the hip).
DO KNOT BE SO DIRECT!
Hit a sensitive spot, yah, that’s a good cue to back back by a few inches. Take a deep breathe and work in small localized regions surrounding the knot or tender spot. DO not roll “the knot” with intensity of the Lebron at the end of Game 2 (Ja-ja-ja-but damn, JR). I digress. This is going to sound super gross, but consider how a scar heals. scab forms. From the outside in, right. If you keep picking at the source, its never going to heal and you end up scarring or in this case doing more damage to your soft tissue.
NO PAIN, NO GAIN..STOP!
If you subscribe to this theory, ditch it DON’T SMR is not supposed to be an exercise or game in pain tolerance. Placing too much sustained pressure on one body part can result it further damage. Some research I found shows that rolling at 50%, 70%, and 90% to your pain threshold resulted in similar benefits. Leverage your body, evaluate the density of your foam roller, or even use a smaller tool such a tennis ball to target localized areas or adjust the pain response you’re inflicting.
ABOVE THE BELT RULES
I cringe when I see people rolling their low back/lumbar region. Your spine will freak the eff out & all your spinal muscles contract to protect, protect the spine. So use the foam roller on your upper back where the shoulder blades and muscles protect the spine. Once you hit the end of the rib cage, stop and be gentle, while rolling near the rib cage. Child’s pose (yep, the yoga pose) or rolling the muscles that connect to your lower back — the piriformis, hip flexors (psoas major, iliacus, rectus femoris, pectineus & sartorius) and rectus femoris (major quad muscle).
*If you count yourself among the athletes who 100% swear by foam rolling your IT Band, more power to you. If it doesn’t bother you and you experience improvement, feel free to continue your routine.BUT, if you have stubborn pain that simply doesn’t go away, it may be time to reevaluate your approach.
Photo Courtesy Of The Amazing: Duy Takes Photos