Do you have “tight” muscles?
Do you lack “flexibility”?
Do you skip weekly massages?
If you answered YES to any of these questions, you probably need to add “MYOFASCIAL RELEASE” to your exercise regimen. MYO… what? is probably the first reaction.
“MYO” refers to muscle and “FASCIA” refers to the outer covering of connective tissues that cover the muscle. Think of a chicken breast with skin on it. Pull the skin away from the meat and see the shiny covering; that is the fascia. Cut into the meat and see the striated tissue. That is the muscle.
Understand that when a muscle is used over and over again, the connective tissue thickens like a callus on your hand after working in the garden. When these tissues thicken they limit the range of motion the muscle has by becoming tighter and thicker to the surrounding skin and body.
When fascia are fully hydrated and receiving nutrients, they are supple and allow free movement. However, in the morning when fluids are depleted and after strenuous workouts, they become tighter and change the way a muscle stabilizes the connecting joints.
There are several ways to increase the suppleness and hydration of these important surrounding networks: acupuncture, massage, staying hydrated, Rolfing, as well as foam rolling.
Each of these activities increase circulation, break up deep adhesions (think the callus) and improve blood flow to the muscle and connective tissues. The results increase your flexibility and help reduce the chance for injury by keeping the joint moving smoothly.
Here are some basics to keep in mind when “Foam Rolling”
Move slowly approximately 1” for 5-10 seconds
Roll perpendicular to the direction of the connective tissue
Roll each area for 3-5 minutes
Roll each area 2-3 times weekly depending on the tightness
Increase the amount of body weight into the roller as pain allows – “No pain, no gain” is certainly not the motto but a rather aim for a slight discomfort level for better results.
Remember that flexibility is achieved through strengthening weak muscle groups, lengthening tight muscles and improving the condition of the surrounding connective tissues.
Foam Rollers are perfect for developing core stabilization, lower body balance and stamina. They may also be used for gentle stretching and self-mobilization of joints and spine.
Types of foam rollers –
SPRI White Foam Rollers:
Advantages: Lower price point, softer feel, form to body
SPRI EVA Foam Rollers: (marble blue rollers constructed of heat sealed EVA foam) Advantages: built to withstand body weight, non-porous rollers return to original shape, prevent moisture and bacteria from penetrating the surface.
Sold on line at Sears.com
Andrea Metcalf is a healthy lifestyle spokesperson, author or Naked Fitness, a 28 Day Proven Weight Loss Program for a Slimmer, Fitter, Pain-Free Body, (Vanguard Press) and a regular contributor to Better TV, WomensForum.com and NBC Chicago. Receive daily tweets on health and fitness tips by following andrea on twitter @andreametcalf or www.FITStudio.com