Self Myofascial release (SMR)

Myofascial release word is very popular now days. There are many fancy tools are available to release the fascia. From the tool box of fascia releasing technique , we share our knowledge on foam rolling . This foam rolling we use as self myofascial release.

This Self myofascial release  (SMR)technique shines in physio industry as well as fitness industry. It is very simple technique and gives good results (” short term”). Foam rollers have become easily accessible.  Foam rolling gives improvement in flexibility, muscle recovery, movement efficiency, inhibiting overactive muscles, and pain reduction with just minutes of application. Again, it gives us short term effect.

Why do we do SMR?

SMR can be done with a variety of tools beyond foam rollers, such as medicine balls, handheld rollers or other assistive devices. Foam rollers vary in density, surface structure. Whatever the tool or variation selected, SMR focuses on the neural and fascial systems in the body. It can be negatively influenced by poor posture, repetitive motions, or dysfunctional movements. These mechanically stressful actions are recognized as an injury.  initiating a repair process called the Cumulative Injury Cycle (Figure 1) .

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Figure 1

You can see in above diagram, This cycle follows a pathway  of inflammation, muscle spasm, and the development of soft tissue adhesions which can lead to altered neuromuscular control and muscle imbalance . By alteration in muscles body creates a dysfucntion movement pattern. The adhesions reduce the elasticity of the soft tissues and can eventually cause a permanent change in the soft tissue structure, referred to as Davis’s Law. The SMR focuses on alleviating these adhesions (also known as “trigger points” or “knots”) to restore optimal functional movement and improve muscles elasticity.

SMR is based on the principal of autogenic inhibition. Skeletal muscle tissue contains muscle spindles and Golgi tendon organs (GTO) & two neural receptors. Muscle spindles are sensory receptors running parallel to muscle fibers. It is  sensitive to a change and rate of muscle lengthening. When muscle fiber stimulated, they will cause a myotatic stretch reflex. It causes muscle contraction. The GTO receptors that is located in the musculotendinous junctions They are stimulated by a change and rate of tension. When a change in tension is sustained at an adequate intensity and duration, muscle spindle activity is inhibited causing a decrease in trigger point activity, accompanied by a reduction of pain.

In easiest way, when the pressure of the body against the foam roller is sustained on the trigger point, the GTO will “turn off” the muscle spindle activity allowing the muscle fibers to stretch, removal of knot, and realign the muscle fiber.

  Davis’s Law: Soft tissue models along lines of stress. Autogenic Inhibition: The process by which neural impulses that sense tension are greater than the impulses that cause muscles to contract, providing an inhibitory effect to the muscle spindles.

The Benefits of SMR:

  • Improved joint range of motion
  • Decreased neuromuscular hypertonicity 
  • Improved neuromuscular efficiency 
  • Suppression/reduction of trigger point sensitivity and pain
  •  Provide optimal length-tension relationships
  • Decrease the overall effects of stress on the human movement system 
  • Correction of muscle imbalances
  • Muscle relaxation 
  • Reduced soreness and improved tissue recovery 

Contraindication : 

  • Congestive heart failure
  • Kidney failure, 
  • Any organ failure, 
  • Bleeding disorders, 
  • Contagious skin conditions.


How to start Foam Rolling:

Foam rolling should be done before static or dynamic stretching activities, improving the tissue’s ability to lengthen during stretching activities. Foam rolling can also be done as part of the cool-down. Foam rolling activities should be performed on tissues identified as overactive during the assessment process.

Most people can enjoy foam rolling on their own once they’ve been instructed on how to properly perform the exercises. Slowly roll the targeted area until the most tender spot is found. Hold on that spot while relaxing the targeted area and discomfort is reduce. Hold time  between 30 seconds and 90 seconds. It is important to maintain core stability during exercise. 
Here are some of the top foam roller exercises to get you and your clients started on a path to moving and feeling better.

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Lie on the floor with the foam roller behind the upper back. Cross arms to opposite shoulders. Raise hips off the floor and slowly roll back and forth to find the tender spot. Hold for 30-90 seconds.
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Lie on one side with the arm closest to the ground outstretched with thumb facing upwards. Place the foam roller under the arm in the axillary region. Slowly roll back and forth to find the tender spot. Hold for 30-90 seconds until the discomfort is reduced. Repeat on other side.
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Lie face down and place one thigh, flexed and abducted, over the foam roller. Slowly roll the upper, inner thigh area to find the most tender spot. Hold for 30-90 seconds until the discomfort is reduced. Switch legs and repeat.

Image courtsey : Google


Grieve R, et al. The immediate effect of soleus trigger point pressure release on restricted ankle joint dorsiflexion: A pilot randomised controlled trial. J Bodyw Mov Ther.2011;15:42-49.

Reid DA, McNair PJ. Passive force, angle and stiffness changes after stretching of hamstring muscles. Med Sci Sports Exer 2004;36(11):1944-48.

Hou CR, Tsai LC, Cheng KF, Chung KC, Hong CZ. Immediate effects of various therapeutic modalities on cervical myofascial pain and trigger-point sensitivity. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 2002;83: 1406-14.

Hanten WP, Olson SL, Butts NL, Nowicki AL. Effectiveness of a home program of ischemic pressure followed by sustained stretch for treatment of myofascial trigger points. Phys Ther 2000;80:997-1003.

Edgerton VR, Wolf S, Roy RR. Theoretical basis for patterning EMG amplitudes to assess muscle dysfunction. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1996;28(6):744-751.

Janda V. Muscle weakness and inhibition in back pain syndromes. In: Grieve GP (ed). Modern Manual Therpay of the Vertebral Column. New York: Churchill Livingstone, 1986.

Clark MA, Lucett SL. NASM Essentials of Corrective Exercise Training, Baltimore, MD:Lippincott Williams & Wilkins;2011.[/restrict]

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