Hello! Today I’d like to talk to you about Self Myofascial Release also known as SMR. It’s purpose is to release knots or tension within the muscle tissue. It’s a self applied technique that’s usually done with a foam roller or other device specifically designed for SMR.
It’s kind of like giving your muscles a massage and it’s usually best to use an SMR kit when doing this. By using a kit you’ll have the materials necessary to cover all the major muscle groups. I like to use the kit provided by TriggerPoint and for more information on this type of kit please visit my Reviews page here.
This process can be used before warming up or also as a cool down after exercising. It’s a great way to relieve tightness in your muscles. I suggest doing it at least twice a week or possibly more depending on how often you work out. I usually do it about 3-4 times a week myself. I’m going to describe how to do SMR on some key muscles in your body. For every part I go over you should do it for at least 30 seconds. You can do it longer if it’s a real tight area for you.
For the feet you’ll need one of the small massage balls from the kit. You stand up and place the center sole of your foot on top of the ball. Then you gently slide the sole of your foot forward and backwards. You place gentle pressure downward on the ball with your foot while you do this. This helps release tightness in the sole and heel part of your foot. You can do this barefoot or with a sock on.
To do the lower part of your calf you’ll need a foam block from the kit and a small roller. You start out sitting on the floor. You place the roller on the block to start. Then you place the lower third part of your calf on top of the roller. You gently slide your lower leg forward and backwards over the roller.
As you move your leg forward the roller should only come up to the lower third of your calf. As you move your leg backwards the roller should stop about 2-3 inches from the top of your ankle. This helps relieve tension in your soleus muscle (below the calf) and lower calf.
To massage the upper calf you’ll need to use a large foam roller. You place the roller under the middle of your calf to start. You gently slide your leg forward until the roller is close to the popliteal joint (joint below the knee). Then you slide your leg backwards until the roller stops at the bottom third of your calf. This helps relieve tightness in your calf muscles.
To roll out (massage) the hamstrings you’ll need the large foam roller and you’ll be sitting down again. You place the roller under the center part of your hamstring. You slide your leg forward until the roller stops at the lower edge of your buttocks. Then you slide your leg backwards until the roller stops at the lower edge of the popliteal joint. This helps loosen up your hamstring muscles. If you run a lot this area may be a little tighter for you than other areas.
For this you’ll need the medium size roller and once again you’ll be sitting on the floor. You place the roller on the middle of your thigh. You place your hand on top of the roller and applying light pressure slide it forward gently until it reaches the top of your knee. Then you slide it backwards until it stops at the lower edge of your hip.
There is also an alternate way to do the quadricep. You lay in a prone position with your forearms on the floor and elevate your body off the ground. You then place the large roller under the center of your thigh. You slide your body forward until the roller reaches the top of your knee. Then you slide your body backwards until the roller comes to the lower edge of your hip.
I prefer to use the first method because it’s easier access to the thigh and still very effective. These movements help relieve tension in your quadriceps which is one of the larger muscle groups you have.
To roll out your gluteus muscles (buttocks) you’ll need the large foam roller. This one’s very simple and all you do is sit on the roller to start. Then you move your buttocks forward and backwards slowly over the roller. This will help reduce tightness in your glutes.
For the lower and middle back you’ll need the large foam roller again. You start out laying on the floor. Then you place the roller under your lower back. You slide your whole body forward until the roller reaches your middle back. Then you slide your body backwards until the roller is under your lower back again. This helps alleviate tension in your lower and middle back.
For this you need one of the small massage balls. You take the ball in your hand and place it about 2 inches above and about 1 inch inside the nipple line. Using your hand simply move the ball in a circular motion applying light pressure to about a 1-2 inch diameter radius. Whether it’s 1 or 2 inches will depend on the size of your chest. This helps relieve tightness in your pectoralis or chest muscles.
SMR is a great supplement to relieve muscle tension in addition to stretching. One thing I’d like to caution you about is please be gentle with your movements. You may be going over some tender areas in your body and you want to avoid injury.
Also, SMR can be used to relieve tension in any area of your body and not just the ones mentioned above. Just about anywhere you have a muscle you can do some type of SMR to alleviate tightness. Being able to smooth knots and relieve tension in your muscles will help you achieve optimal performance and have better range of motion.
The National Academy of Sports Medicine’s research partners at the University of North Carolina wrote an article on SMR. It was a great article and to read it click here. If you have any questions or comments please leave them as I look forward to hearing from you. Thanks for your time and have an awesome day!