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Self-Myofascial Release: Why Foam Rolling Combats Pain


Self-myofascial release, or now commonly known as foam rolling was once a recovery technique used only by professional therapists, coaches and athletes. Today, it has become a more familiar to all of us, an everyday practice for people at any level of physical fitness.

Self-myofascial release is a fancy term for self-massage. It helps release the tightness in your muscles by applying pressure to specific areas of your body. It supports the recovery of your muscles and bring back their health and elasticity.

It Is Not Enough To Stretch

Stretching can help loosen up and bring back the elasticity of your muscles, but it alone is not enough to release all the muscle tightness. This is when self-myofascial or foam rolling techniques come in the picture.

The goal of self-myofascial release or any recovery and corrective technique is to restore the point of normalcy in the muscles. Foam rolling aids blood flow and restore normal muscle functions for optimum performance.

How Foam Rolling Works

Foam rolling applies deep compressions to your muscles to help break up tight muscles and aid relaxation. On top of this, it can also address the adhesions formed between the muscles usually caused by dehydration, injury, overuse, etc.

Foam rolling your muscles can be compared to tenderizing a piece of steak. At first, there will be some slight pain and discomfort. But afterwards, your muscles will become loose and supple. If you neglect your muscle health, you will be more susceptible to pain movement, muscle adhesions and flexibility loss.

Common Pains Foam Rolling Can Fix

If you use the right technique, foam rolling can become your personal, free masseuse. It does not just prepare your body for the stresses caused by workout, it can also relieve aches and prevent them from coming back.

Here are eight common pains that foam rolling can fix for you.

1. Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain is usually caused by chronic sitting down, poor posture or tight hip flexor muscles. The pain usually gets worse when you try to bend your waist. This puts a lot of pressure at your back and lead to injury over time.

2. Upper Back Pain

Just like lower back pain, pain in the upper back is also caused by poor posture. Your upper back muscles can stiffen and lead to weak shoulder muscles. Foam rolling will relieve the sharp pains and tightness between your shoulder blades.

3. Heel Pain

For people who constantly walk around or suffer from plantar fasciitis, a foam roll will help ease their discomfort. This inflammation is located at the band of fiber that runs along the bottom of your foot called plantar fascia.

4. Knee Pain

People who suffer from weak or tight hip flexors have problems with their knees. When your hip muscles fail to stabilize your stance and support your body, the iliotibial band overcompensates for your weight. This puts a lot of pressure on your knees and cause pain.

5. Shoulder Pain

Your shoulder is one of the first places in your body to get hurt. This is because it has the most complex and unstable joint in the body. On top of this, when people exercise, they tend to focus more on the deltoids and neglect the other smaller stabilizing muscles found in the back of the shoulder joint, causing stretch imbalances and pain.

6. Shin Pain

Pain in the shin is commonly known as shin splints. It is when the sheath surrounding the tibia bone is inflamed due to extensive jumping or running on hard surfaces. Foam rolling this area will help release the inflammation around the bone and alleviate pain. Athletes who run a lot will find foam rolling their shins helpful.

Many healthcare practitioners encourage their patients to utilize foam rolling especially when they experience muscle pain. However, it is still recommended that you ask your doctor or your physical therapist first before proceeding with foam rolling, especially when you just recently recovered from an injury.