By Matt Smith | ART, FMS, CES, CPT
Have you made it this far with your fitness unscathed by pain? Are you growing paranoid and want to maintain a good frame? Or are you tired of those chronic aches and pains nagging at you? So far you have learned about myofascial anatomy and the potential danger of the injury cycle. In the final part of this series, we explore the means and methods of myofascial release — one of the solutions to your pain. We will look at when it should be done, what tool is right for you, and more. Read on.
The Solution: Myofascial Release
Myofascial release creates mechanical pressure within tissues to stimulate receptors within the myofascial system, leading to an increase in fluidity of fascia, muscle relaxation, range of motion, proprioception, speed of muscle contraction, and force output…Pretty powerful stuff!
A recent study on the effectiveness of foam rolling out of The School of Human Kinetics and Recreation at Memorial University of Newfoundland showed that a mere two minutes of foam rolling led to an 8-10% increase in the range of motion when performed on the quadriceps in a group of male athletes. This is a great example of how myofascial release has incredible “bang for your buck.” All it takes is a few minutes to create a tremendous difference in movement patterns: 8-10% of ROM could be the difference between hitting the PR in your snatch or catching the bar out front and losing it.
I Don’t Have Any Injuries or Pain. Do I Really Need To Do This?
The presence or absence pain can be a very deceptive gauge for how our bodies are doing, primarily because pain can be one of the last indicators to show up when chronic injuries take place within our bodies. In other words, there is a significant amount of time between when your joints, tendons, and ligaments begin going through degenerative changes and when the actual pain of arthritis, tendonitis, etc. shows up. Furthermore, even when pain does show up, it does not necessarily occur in the same place in the body where the dysfunction is located. (Remember what we said about the old kinetic chain?)
As mentioned above, myofascial continuities create a bridging system within the body. These connections can create chain reactions of tissue dysfunction and injury, making it imperative to take care of the body as a whole and maintain healthy movement patterns. If you are performing CrossFit regularly, making myofascial release a regular habit can help restore and maintain proper motion in your tissues.
Tools To Use
Your weapon of choice is completely up to you. Foam rollers of any density, PVC pipes, lacrosse balls, Trigger Point Therapy Kits, “The Stick”, Accumassage, etc. are all great tools. The smaller your tool, the more acute pressure you will create; if you are dying on a lacrosse ball, switch out for a foam roller. If you are in agony on your high density foam roller or PVC pipe, switch out for a lower density foam roller until you start to become less stiff. Using different tools for different areas of the body is also a good idea: for instance, consider using a lacrosse ball for the bottom of the foot and a foam roller for the thoracic spine.