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Foam Rolling (SMR) – It Hurts, But You Should Probably Do It!

Foam Rolling

Foam Rolling aka. SMR – Not to be mistaken for ASMR – you know that creepy whispering that’s all over YouTube. Nope – That’s not what we’re talking about today. SMR stands for Self-Myofascial Release.

More than likely you are one of the many people that sit on their bum for about 8+ hours a day at a desk. Sitting for extended periods of time can cause uncomfortable, tight, and even painful muscles. Physical activity and sports will also cause issues for muscles. Self-Myofascial Release (SMR), without boring you with too much science, is essentially a self-massage technique which can help improve your flexibility, range of motion, and will help release unwanted muscle tension.

Because flexibility and range of motion are important to your overall results, this makes SMR an important part of your overall fitness routine.

If You Sit At A Desk All Day You Should Be Foam Rolling

Foam Rolling Tools

There are various tools (softball, tennis ball, stick) that can be used in conjunction with a foam roller and we believe most people could benefit to spend at least 5 minutes on a foam roller each day. It’s not because we enjoy seeing you in pain, it’s because we want you to get the most out of your workouts and help prevent you from injury. That being said, in your early stages of training, it may be beneficial for you and the foam roller to spend a bit more time together.

Any areas that you may find to be particularly tight, we would recommend that you spend 1-2 minutes on them every day for at least 2 weeks. If you find an area isn’t very tight, then just do the minimum and move on. What’s important is to address your specific areas of tightness. The more painful it is to roll, the more likely you should be spending more time in that area. Over time, you should need less time with the roller as your tissue quality should improve from regular SMR and it won’t hurt as much.

Tightest Muscles

Without having met you we can guess that your tightest areas are probably your quads, TFL (top of the outside of your thigh), and glutes. That’s where most people are tight due to sitting– this will probably hurt you quite a bit if you’re new to foam rolling but this WILL improve if you spend some time with it. Make sure when you are rolling to keep yourself from flexing the muscle as you roll. Try to stay as relaxed as possible and breath in and out deeply. If you flex or tense your muscles during SMR (your body will naturally want to do this to protect yourself from the pain), you won’t get much out of it. So, stay as relaxed as possible when you roll.

Avoid Overrolling IT Band

Try to avoid over rolling your IT band (a thick band of connective tissue that runs from the outside of your hip to the outside of the knee) unless you have been assessed by a professional, and they have advised you to do this. The thing is, a lot of times muscles and fascia are tight because they are overworked because they are compensating for other muscles. This is why it’s important to say that foam rolling is best used when in conjunction with the strength training program.

If you’re not strengthening then don’t go loosening screws that are meant to be tight for a reason – this can cause instability in the body. Another place to stay away from is rolling out directly on your lumbar vertebrae (your lower back). You can still roll out the muscles on either side of your lower spine, but do not roll directly on the lower spine as it can aggravate your pain and it’s also an area that susceptible to fractures for some people.

Here is a basic routine that you can do before and/or after your workouts that takes less than 5 minutes! Or > Click here to be taken to the warm-up workout page. 

Basic 5 Minute Foam Rolling Routine

Quadriceps  15-30 seconds

Foam Rolling Calves Gif

Calves 15-30 seconds per side

Foam Rolling Calves Gif

Thoracic Spine (Upper/Mid Back) 15-30 seconds

Upper Back Foam Roller SMR Gif

Glute Piriformis (Butt) 15-30 seconds per side

Glute Foam Rolling SMR Gif

Adductor (Inner Thigh) 15-30 seconds per side

Inner Thigh SMR Roller

** If you have circulatory issues, fibromyalgia, or a recent acute injury, SMR might not be right for you – talk to your doctor or physiotherapist first. 

Check out this video of Micaela talking to Global Television about how to use  foam rolling to help with “Runner’s Knee”

Foam Roller We Love:

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