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What is Myofascial Release?

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If you sit at a desk for hours each day or spend a lot of time looking down at your phone, you’ve probably experienced tightness and soreness in your neck or shoulders. That’s called myofascial pain.

Myo is the medical term for muscle and fascial means fascia which describes the strong, thin, fibrous connective tissue that surrounds and supports your muscles. Healthy fascia is smooth, slick, and pliable and helps your muscles move freely.

However, muscle overuse, injury, poor posture, stress, or lack of activity can cause painful knots called trigger points. These knots are made up of contracted muscle fibers. Blood stops flowing to the contracted muscles and fascia, which means they aren’t receiving the oxygen and nutrients needed to remain healthy and flexible. Trigger points send a pain signal to your brain that responds by telling you to stop using the affected muscles.

Myofascial release is a massage technique that involves applying sustained pressure to release trigger points. The application of gentle pressure relaxes the tissues to relieve pain and restore movement.

What are the symptoms?

Myofascial pain symptoms can vary and sometimes appear suddenly, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Symptoms may include:

  • Deep aching, throbbing, tightness
  • Trigger points in the muscle
  • Tender or sore muscle
  • Muscle weakness
  • Reduced range of motion in the affected muscle

Other commonly reported issues may include poor sleep, headaches, fatigue, stress, depression, and anxiety.

Tools for self-myofascial release

Foam rollers and percussion massage guns are both effective tools that can be used to perform self-myofascial release (SMR).

For decades, athletes have used inexpensive foam rollers as a tool for SMR. When used properly, foam rollers may improve range of motion, muscle recovery, and performance, according to the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy However, targeting specific muscle groups with a foam roller can be difficult.

More recently, percussion massage guns have become an increasingly popular tool for SMR. Obviously, massage guns are more expensive than foam rollers, but there are advantages to consider.

Massage guns offer various tips to target specific muscle groups. You can adjust the settings for a lighter or more intense treatment. Plus, convenience and portability have made massage guns a favorite among professional athletes and fitness enthusiasts alike.

What are the benefits of SMR?

It only takes a few minutes each day to reap the benefits of SMR. Here’s what it can do for your body when done consistently:

  • Reduces soreness
  • Helps connective tissues recover after injury or exercise
  • Improves your range of motion
  • Relieves tension and knots
  • Improves blood circulation
  • Assists with overall relaxation

Foam Roller Safety

There are a variety of foam rollers on the market. Some are smooth, others have bumps that look like the tread on a tire, and they come in multiple sizes. Foam rollers are safe for most but there are some precautions to consider before using them.

  • Roll slowly on muscle only.
  • Don’t roll horizontally on your neck, spine. Instead, roll vertically to avoid injury.
  • Avoid major blood vessels, joints, and bony areas.
  • If you experience severe pain, stop and consult your doctor.
  • Do not use on torn muscles.
  • Do not use during pregnancy without doctor approval. Calves should be avoided during the third trimester. It may cause premature labor.
  • If you experience severe pain, stop and consult your doctor.

Massage gun safety

Like foam rollers, massage guns are generally safe for most people. However, we recommend following a few safety guidelines for the best results.

  • Start with the lowest intensity to learn how your body responds.
  • Make sessions brief and don’t stay focused on a single area for too long.
  • Avoid using on your neck, spine, major blood vessels, joints, and bony areas.
  • Do not use on torn muscles.
  • Do not use during pregnancy.
  • If you experience severe pain, stop and consult your doctor.


SMR can improve your quality of life when performed safely and regularly. If your pain is severe or injury-related, be sure to discuss it with your doctor or a chiropractor.

It’s also important to remember that your muscles require adequate hydration and a clean diet to stay healthy.

READ NEXT: How to Stay Hydrated During Your Summer Workouts
By |2021-09-02T15:59:19-05:00July 15th, 2021|Back Pain, Featured, Health & Wellbeing, Sports Injuries|Comments Off on What is Myofascial Release?Back to Home|

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