Body Tune Up
Ouch…my back hurts!
Approximately 80% of the population will suffer from acute back pain at some point in their life. I personally fell into this large statistic when I strained my SI joint a few years ago. All the signs were there before it happened. Tightness, pain upon waking, reduced range of motion until one day when I lifted something that broke the camel’s back, or in this case, my back.
Does this sound familiar to you? You are not alone!
- Almost two thirds of Canadian adults admit to having back pain symptoms each year.
- Back pain is one of the most common reasons for missed work – second only to the common cold. In fact, back pain is the second most common reason for visits to the doctor’s office, outnumbered only by upper-respiratory infections.
- Most cases of back pain are mechanical – meaning they are not caused by serious conditions, such as inflammatory arthritis, infection, fracture or cancer.
Musculoskeletal injury pain is all too common. The good news is, exercise and stretches done regularly can go a long way to help prevent musculoskeletal pain.
How, you ask? By doing exercises that include SELF-MYOFASICAL RELEASE.
Part of healthy fitness hygiene is maintaining a balanced musculoskeletal system. Our musculoskeletal system is made up of the bones of the skeleton, muscles, cartilage, tendons, ligaments, joints, and other connective tissue that supports and binds tissues and organs together. The musculoskeletal system’s primary functions include supporting the body, allowing motion, and protecting vital organs. These structures should be balanced in both flexibility and strength. This balance is the foundation to successful participation in daily life, recreational activities and sports.
Unfortunately, we are exposed to muscle tightness from overuse (repetitive movements), periods of inactivity, muscle imbalances, poor posture, injuries, aging, obesity or ineffective training. Over time, muscle tightness can result in dysfunction or chronic injury and pain.
It’s interesting to note, these mechanically stressful actions (tightness) are recognized as an injury by the body, initiating a repair process called the Cumulative Injury Cycle. This cycle follows a path of inflammation, muscle spasm, and the development of soft tissue adhesions that can lead to altered neuromuscular control and muscle imbalance.
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. This is where Self-Myofascial Release (SMR) can help. SMR focuses on alleviating adhesions (also known as “trigger points” or “knots”) for the purpose of reducing muscle tension and restoring optimal muscle motion and function. SMR can be executed with foam rollers, balls and/or rolling sticks.
Though SMR can be painful when first practiced, the pain from a muscle strain and sprained joint is far worse long term. There are many Benefits of using Self Myofascial Release:
- Increases blood flow and elevates the healing effects of heat
- Corrects muscle imbalances
- Promotes muscle relaxation
- Improves joint range of motion
- Improves neuromuscular efficiency
- Reduces soreness and improved tissue recovery
- Suppresses trigger point sensitivity and pain
- Decreases neuromuscular hypertonicity (abnormal muscle tone)
- Provides optimal length-tension relationships
- Decreases the overall effects of stress on the human movement system
- Reduces the risk of developing adhesions
When should I perform Self Myofascial Release?
- Pre-exercise warm-up. For best results, it is advised to limit the application of pressure to two minutes or less per muscle group. Use foam roller only for muscles that demonstrate restrictions that change joint motion.
- Foam rolling can also be used effectively at the end of a workout to reduce muscle tension and promote recovery.
What parts of my body should I roll?
If the area is tender like a deeply sore muscle, or if when you press on it, there’s a sensation of it being a bit knotted. Or if you know it is an area of chronic concern due to your personal activity and injury history, then you probably need to roll it.
How much should SMR hurt?
As for how much it should hurt—it should be “comfortably uncomfortable”, but not wince-inducing painful. When things hurt a lot, it creates a negative physiological and psychological response. High pain causes a tightening and restricting response in the nervous system and also creates an unpleasant association with that activity, which you should certainly avoid if you’re expecting to perform a little bit of foam rolling every day to ensure healthy tissues.
How to make the most of your foam rolling:
- Search. Use the foam roller slowly (about 1 inch per second) and roll the entire muscle length. This prepares the muscle, increases circulation and helps to identify tender spots (adhesions, trigger points, knots).
- Destroy. Hold pressure on 2–3 of the most tender spots along the muscle. A tender spot would rate as a 6–8 on a pain scale of 1–10.
- Mobilize. While holding pressure, perform movements different from rolling up and down. Try cross-friction by shifting the muscles across the roller. The roller surface should grip the clothing or skin, allowing the creation of a dragging force. Cross-friction is the best method to reduce adhesions and scar tissue and to restore movement to the muscles. Another technique is pin-and-stretch. While holding pressure on the roller, move the joint beyond the roller. For example, when rolling calf muscles: point and flex the ankle joint.
- Flush. Finish by performing slow rolling motions to flush the area. As in step 1, roll the entire muscles length, about an inch per second, without stopping on tender spots.
A few words from HealthStyles Personal Training Client:
“I have been a client of Tina’s for a few months now. Since the beginning Tina has always encouraged foam rolling as a part of my daily workouts for a sustainable healthy lifestyle I am developing. Of course I never made it a top priority until the day I couldn’t move my knee and thought I had seriously injured it due to an exercise injury. I contacted Tina who insisted I roll, and roll multiple times a day! I took her advice and after realizing that when I took the five minutes to roll my knee, the tightness basically disappeared! I have now made this a daily routine before or after any type of exercise and feel 100% better.” Rebecca Eix.
PAIN does not just go away. It is easier, less work, time and money to keep our vessel going with a little tender loving care then to experience a complete breakdown from neglect. Get rolling or keep rolling. Your body will thank you for it!
Personal plan and corporate presentations are available to suit individual needs.
Tina D’Angelo Owner, Trainer and Consultant of HealthStyles Consulting.