Self Myofascial Release Techniques, often referred to as SMRT, utilizes cylindrical foam baffles to help rehabilitate a wide range of injuries. Popular with athletes, therapeutic specialists and fitness enthusiasts alike, its use is thought to stimulate regenerative growth and to reduce chronic pain through trigger points in the fascia, or covering of the muscle.
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The muscles, bones and joints are insulated by a specialized connective tissue called fascia. Along with tendons and ligaments, fascia is a type of dense connective tissue and it covers the whole body from the head to the toes. There are three layers to the fascia -- the superficial fascia, the deep fascia and the subserous fascia. Deep within the fascia there are speculated to be trigger points that are precursors to certain types of muscle injuries. A foam roller is used to massage these triggers points and reduce the risk of injury.
Foam rollers can be purchased in 1 foot or 3 foot lengths and are also available in a number of different densities from a soft foam to high density rollers that feel more solid. A large, heavily muscled individual may find that the high density roller is more beneficial, whereas a smaller, less dense individual may want to start with the soft foam roller.
A foam roller is thought to have the best benefit on the lower extremities. Place your unsupported hamstrings on a foam roller. Using your arms to support yourself, slowly roll your hamstrings over the roller until you reach a tender spot. Hold the position for 20 to 30 seconds or within limits of pain.
An erector spinae stretch is performed by positioning the foam roller at the t-2 vertabrae. Draw your legs into your chest to aid in stabilization of the roller and lower them to the floor. Slowly roll your body from side to side resting on the muscle that runs parallel to the spine.
When using a foam roller, it is important that you find your tender spot and hold the position for 20 to 30 seconds. This will in the release the of hypertrophied muscle within the fascia and lead to an increased possibility of healing. Some individuals may take longer to activate the action, and this position can be held up to a minute. Foam roller therapy exercises can be used prior to exercise as well as during cool down.