Just Roll With It

Myofascial Release and Athlete Well being

Foam rollers, lacrosse balls, odd shaped sticks and spiky logs of death have started to become common place in most fitness facilities and especially within the community of Crossfit Boxes. So what are all these odd shaped pool noodles and hard balls that are all sticky taped together? Are they more than just a floatation device in the summer?

To understand these pain inflicting devices its best to start at the very beginning and understand exactly what we are trying to achieve by using these torture tools.

Fascia to be put in simple terms is sheets of fibrous tissue that envelops the body, its muscles and organs beneath the skin. Its envelops the muscles and different groups of muscles and their different layers. Fascia basically covers, supports and separates the different muscle groups.

Self myofascial release techniques (SMRT), giving yourself a deep massage to flatten and free up your own bodies fascia, although not new, has become more and more prominent amongst athletes and fitness enthusiasts alike.

Therapists and athletes have embraced the use of myofascial release massage to reduce chronic pain and rehabilitate a range of injuries that include lower back and shoulder pain, release of tight ankles and glutes and improve mobility of the shoulders, elbows and knees. Some therapists claim a long list of benefits, from curing tennis elbow to IBS relief. While some claims may be contentious, it seems likely that many sports men and women can benefit from this regenerative therapy.

I guess for most of us the question remains; what is Fascia? Fascia is a specialized connective tissue layer that surrounds muscles, bones and joints and gives support and protection to the body. It consists of three layers - the superficial fascia, the deep fascia and the subserous fascia. Fascia is one of the 3 types of dense connective tissue (the others being ligaments and tendons) and it extends without interruption from the top of the head to the tip of the toes therefore affecting mechanical path ways, neurological pathways and can consequently influence muscle dynamics.

Basically if the fascia of your body isn’t smooth and points of tension have occurred through injury, impact, high intensity training or stress, these points in the fascia can restrict or alter the motion about a joint resulting in a change of normal neural feedback to the central nervous system.

Eventually, the neuromuscular system becomes less efficient, leading to premature fatigue, chronic pain and injury and less efficient motor skill performance, you're sore and you cant move as well. An athlete's worst nightmare!

Self myofascial release is a relatively simple technique that athletes can use to alleviate points of tension and stress. The goal of myofascial release therapy is to stretch and loosen the fascia so that it, and other structures can move more freely, restoring our motion and basically making us feel better.

In this particular post we are going to look at relieving the Illiotial band (ITB). This band runs down the side of the leg with tightness and sensitivity resulting in hip pain, lower back pain, knee pain and instability.

Iliotibial Band Self Myofascial Release 1. Position yourself on your side lying on the foam roll. 2. Bottom leg is raised slightly off the floor. 3. Maintain head in neutral position with ears aligned with shoulders. 4. This may be PAINFUL for many, and should be done in moderation. 5. Roll just below the hip joint down the outside thigh to the knee. 6. If a tender point is located, stop rolling, and rest on the tender point until pain decreases by 75%.

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