Self-Myofascial Release (SMR) is a stretching technique that has been gaining a lot of popularity over the years. It helps you feel better and move properly. It is easy to do and you can do it basically anywhere and anytime.
Research has found that SMR may
– Correct muscle imbalances
– Increase joint range of motion
– Help muscle performance
– Provide optimal length-tension relationships
– Decrease soreness and improved recovery after exercise
– Improve neuromuscular efficiency
– Suppress/reduce trigger point sensitivity and pain
– Decrease the overall effects of stress on the body
When it comes to SMR, most people immediately think of foam rolling. It is very efficient and is pretty much the standard when it comes to SMR. What a lot of people do not think of, though, are balls!
Balls can vary in size, shape, and density. Each of these variables plays a role in how the ball can be used, and for which body part. Some prime examples are: a softball, a tennis ball, a lacrosse ball, and a golf ball. Golf balls and tennis balls are excellent for working feet and can be used multiple times a day.
You can really ‘dig’ into trigger points with the tennis ball! Lacrosse balls are great to use on your chest, glutes, and hip flexors (especially after sitting or driving for a few hours). And the softball is particularly useful to target the pesky area where your hamstrings meet your glutes. You will find a preference for which ball/tool you like best for each area as you develop your practice.
SMR is best after a workout, but you can whenever you remember to do it. My favorite times to perform SMR is first thing in the morning, as my coffee is brewing, and right after a workout. It only takes a couple of minutes to do. The best results are seen after consistent practice.
Here are a couple of SMR techniques for you to try:
- Stand with your back against a wall with the ball between the wall and the meaty area of your glutes.
- Move up and down and side to side until you find a tender spot.
- Relax your weight into the wall, allowing the ball to apply pressure on this area.
- Hold this for 30 seconds, or until you feel the pain subside.
- Repeat on other side.
Chest and shoulders:
- Stand to face the edge of a wall or doorway.
- Place a ball on your chest muscle close to your armpit.
- Lean forward past the edge of the wall and slowly roll the ball on the chest and shoulder area.
- Once you find a tender spot, relax into that position. You can slide your arm up and down the wall for added benefit. Continue to move around slowly in small circles to gently massage the area.
- Repeat on the other side.
Feet (Plantar Fascia):
- Sit comfortably with your feet on the floor.
- Place the ball under the arch of your foot.
- Lean forward, putting weight on your affected side. Slowly roll the ball back and forth along the arch of your foot.
- Continue for 30 to 60 seconds.
- Repeat on other side if necessary.
You should roll out your target areas to the point of tolerance, never pain. SMR with a ball is a great way to release some tension. It can help break up adhesions (knots) between the fascia and underlying muscles. Try these techniques out on your problem areas daily, especially after a workout. Regular and consistent practice of SMR can not only help you feel great but improve performance and muscle recovery too!
Check out more great info and techniques on SMR here: