You may or may not have heard of foam rolling. Foam rolling has become very popular rather recently as more fitness experts and health care practitioners spread the word about how crucial this treatment is for the body. Delving into what foam rolling really does is where the term myofascial comes into play. Myofascia refers to the relationship between the deep fascia encapsulating (surrounding) a given muscle and the muscle fibers themselves.
Fascia serves as one of your body’s major stabilizing structures but it also helps to integrate large movement patterns. Take running, for instance, the thoracolumbar fascia (lower back) is helping transfer forces generated by the legs, into the core then up into the upper body. Without this harmonious process, activities like running would take a tremendous amount of energy and strength, not to mention injury risk would rise.
There are several techniques therapists and trainers use to release fascia. The whole idea behind all of these techniques is to put friction energy into the area to “break” apart the knots. It can be very uncomfortable where intuitively people tend to back off the #intensity. One of the easiest self-help ways to induce this friction is to foam roll.
For the ITB for instance, you simply lay the foam on the ground then place yourself sideways, directly on top of it. Again, the IT band runs from the hip of the knee, laterally (along the side) so you must roll the entire length. When you feel discomfort or burning you have found an adhesion. Spend 20-30 seconds applying pressure to this area, without moving, then roll back and forth over the area to help move the fascia.
You can also do an advanced release technique called “smash and floss” where you keep the knot pinned down on the roller while flexing the knee. Then go on to find the next knot, repeating the process. This can be done with almost any muscle.
Ideally, you should be examined by a qualified practitioner or trainer to be taught the correct way to release the #myofascial adhesions unique to your body. Once you learn the proper technique and locations, you can work on these on your own indefinitely. Remember that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
In other words, don’t wait to be in pain and lose mobility. Start foam rolling and learning about the myofascial release so you can keep moving. Find an inexpensive roller at a sporting goods store or online. Look for a high-density one for more intensity. Professional baseball players are known to use a piece of two-inch PVC pipe to release adhesions… sounds like fun!