Chamber Insider Blog

Tense muscles? (us too)

Self-Myofascial Release Techniques

Muscular imbalances develop over time as muscles adapt to our repetitive, daily postures.  So, while muscular issues can certainly be attributed to aging, it is not the only factor to consider when it comes to quality of movement.Do you always feel stiff?  Are little aches and pains creeping up on you?  If you’re chalking these up to aging, it’s time for a new perspective.

There is a form of exercise you can do to relieve tightness, increase circulation and mobility, reduce stress and feel better:  Self-Myofascial Release (SMR). 

Foam rolling – or, SMR – is a great way to relax tense muscles and release kinks.  Rolling is like a poor-man’s massage.  And, you don’t need a foam roller to do it! (Although, if you have one, great!)

You can use a tennis ball to give yourself a mini massage.  Just like when getting a massage from a therapist, SMR stimulates circulation, hydrates tissue, and calms the nervous system.  Granted, the tennis ball is not as effective as a trained massage therapist, but can extend the benefits in between massages and save some cash as well.

If you’re a typical commuter and desk jockey, the time you spend sitting can tighten up your muscles.  There are two areas that will benefit from SMR: the chest and upper back.

Try This:  While standing, place a tennis ball between your upper back and the wall.  Bend your knees and shift your body so the ball moves around, taking care to not let the ball roll over the spine.  If you find a tender spot, hover over it until it releases, which may take up to 30 seconds.  Spend 1-2 minutes on each shoulder blade.  The more you do this exercise, the less you’ll find trigger points.

You can repeat this same process on the chest.  Your nose will be up close and personal with the wall and that’s okay.  *Ladies – make sure to stay above the breast tissue. 

Also, you can use a tennis ball to roll your calves.  While seated on the floor, place the ball under your calf.  Move your leg side to side for 20 seconds, then move the ball to a new spot and continue rolling and relocating every 20-30 seconds.  The calves are typically a tight area, especially if you wear heels every day.  So, they will love this attention!

SMR exercises are safe to do every day.  You won’t even break a sweat, so it’s safe to do at the office.  However, you may get a few funny looks!  You can also try them before going to bed.  Rolling your calves before bed may help reduce leg cramps and stiff plantar fascia.

Exercise is not always seeing how much you can sweat or how sore you can be.  Why not choose exercises that promote muscular balance?  The side effects of all these exercises are a sense of relaxation and happy muscles! 

-Posted by Sara Lewis, Mix Fitness


About Sara Lewis

Sara Lewis is the owner of Mix Fitness.  She has a degree in Exercise and Health Promotion from Virginia Tech and more than 15 years of experience in the fitness industry.  Sara chose this career because of a fascination with human anatomy and how the body responds to exercise.  She loves working with clients who have limited mobility, unexplained aches and pains, and new moms.  Sara trains clients and teaches Fit Momma Training in western Loudoun County.  Check out her 8-week online program, Restore the CoreFollow Sara & Mix Fitness on Facebook!

Want to Learn More?

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