The Youthful Life

Self Release of Muscle Tension

Runners, gym rats, Sports enthusiasts and anyone who does physical activity will always have knots or kinks in their muscles. Releasing the knots is extremely important to the balance of the general musculo skeletal system and the natural and easiest way simply consists in applying direct pressure on specific points in your body. Technically termed as […]

Runners, gym rats, Sports enthusiasts and anyone who does physical activity will always have knots or kinks in their muscles. Releasing the knots is extremely important to the balance of the general musculo skeletal system and the natural and easiest way simply consists in applying direct pressure on specific points in your body.

Technically termed as self-myofascial release, this once secret technique of sports medicine is now open to all, thanks to an increase in access to knowledge and technology.

The directed and strategic application of pressure on areas of muscle tightness or “trigger points” can be done with your own hands or with simple gear such as a foam roller, lacrosse ball or a Theracane. At first, you will experience pain, sometimes quite important: the greater the pain, the tighter the muscle. This pain indicates the right trigger point. You may want to have your first session with a personal trainer or even a physiotherapist. Their expert knowledge will get you on the right track.

Runners are the best examples for foam rolling benefits. Many athletes need to do activities not actually related to the acts they do. Foam rolling is one activity needed for better performance, pain relief and lesser injuries in the future. The myofascial release aims to get you back to normal functioning.

Correctly used, foam rolling releases stress on certain parts of the body. These are the body parts undergoing repetitive movements from exercise. Running, resistance training and other workouts causes this stress. Your muscles and the tissue surrounding them called the fascia bear the brunt of this exercise and movement induced stress. Foam rolling and dynamic stretching will ease these muscular knots.

The Pain Explained

When you start foam rolling the pain you feel is the effect of deep tissue massage; a small sacrifice to pay for natural pain relief. You gently ease out the knots in your muscles and the surrounding muscle fascia after repetitive strenuous activities. This gives you a personal control on your recovery and muscle performance in the future.

Stretching alone is not sufficient enough to release muscle tensions. Picture your muscles like a bungee cord. When used continually they form a knot. To ease the knot, you stretch the bungee cord, which creates more tension and the knot still stays tied up. Now imagine that you are doing foam rolling on the exact area. This will slowly but surely unravel the knot.

The same way goes for the knots in our muscles. As mentioned, foam rolling on the exact pressure spot is painful at first but will be the best way to relief. The rolling motion breaks up the tensed, knotted areas and resumes normal blood flow and function. Great workouts will always be accompanied by muscle soreness and stiffness which calls for Self-myofascial release to promote faster recovery.

These knots are also caused by incorrect posture, training, flexibility, movement patterns, posture, poor nutrition, low hydration, rest, stress, and other lifestyle related factors. Nobody has a perfect lifestyle. We all need to de-stress and do our best to get right back on track.

3 tips to get you on the right foam rolling track:

  • The Basics

Foam rolling should specifically target muscles, avoid joints and bones. First lie on the floor and apply moderate pressure on the muscle or affected muscle groups with the foam roller using your own bodyweight. Roll slowly. Try to think of a rate of movement at one inch per second. Support your bodyweight with your arms and elbows and hands especially when you feel pain in the targeted area. Gently roll at the affected point until you feel the tension melt away. Do not do this abruptly.

  • Areas to avoid

Do not use foam rolling on your lower back or your neck muscles. The neck is a very sensitive area and a professional should be consulted first. Lacrosse balls are great gears for the lower back.

  • Post rolling Results

Soreness is very common the day after foam rolling. This should be a gentle soreness. Rolling is not a pain tolerance test. Take in plenty of water, eat clean and right and sleep well. Give the target areas a day or two before focusing on them again.

How do I practise foam rolling?


                                             picture courtesy of women’

  • 1. For Legs and Glutes, the leg muscles are the most often used body part for running and for any cardio work. Give those tired muscles a break by targeting some specific leg muscles like the Tibialis Anterior, the calf muscles and the gluteus. Sit on the floor, get you roller and place the specific body part over it. Using you own weight slowly roll the foam on the target muscles. Switch to both right and left muscle groups.

butt                                                   picture courtesy of women’                                                                  

  • 2. For your glutes or “butt” these muscles are the ones that most of your bodyweight when you run, walk or sit. Sit on the roller with arms and legs spread out like a spider for weight support. Then cross your right leg over your left knee. Roll one “cheek” gradually, then switch sides for the other “cheek”.

quads                                             picture courtesy of women’                                                                      

  • 3. For the vastus medalis, the muscle in front part of your knee, place both hands on floor like you are doing a push-up or a plank. Place the foam on the area near the front of your knees and do the rolling process.

A gentle reminder for the ITB band


     Picture by Linda Nylind for The Guardian 

The IT band or the Iliotibial band is a thick band of fascia extending from the outside of the pelvis, over the hip and knee, and inserting just below the knee. This is an important stabilizing tissue in running since it actually moves from the back of the femur to the front during physical activity. This continuous movement and rubbing causes injury and is responsible for ITBS or Iliotibial band syndrome.

Symptoms  are as simple as  stinging sensations above the knee joint, to swelling or thickening of the tissues above your knee joints. At first you will feel no pain but later if left untreated this will worsen.

Foam rolling exercises for the ITB is easy. Just lie on your side with the roller supporting the upper part of your thigh. Use your hands for support and gently roll your leg over the foam. You will feel light to moderate stinging sensations or tenderness that will gradually relax as your ITB loosens up. Alternate for both right and left legs and remember to use your arms and hands for support and movement.

Foam Rolling has many methods and applications. All of this leads to a natural and fast recovery for better performance and health.


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Aude Seynt Martin

Written by Aude Seynt Martin

Aude is an ex corporate Lawyer with a passion for health, self development and independence which lead her to give up her former career to help others through health.

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