Myofascial Release

Written by Andrew Meyer

Why you need to start mobilising

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A few decades ago, static stretching right before working out was believed to prevent injury and promote performance. However, even after tons of research on this subject, there is still some confusion as to whether stretching is the best practice before working out.

Lack of range of motion and tissue stiffness increase your risk of injury. Studies show that static stretching is linked to improved ROM, reduces stiffness and gives better flexibility. However, there is no solid research which suggests that static stretching does prevent injury.

Modern research shows that static stretching may significantly reduce muscle strength and power, compared to dynamic stretching. In addition, a meta-analysis of 350 studies was reviewed by the Centers for Disease Control on the subject. This showed that there was no evidence to indicate that static stretching before working out actually prevented injury.

As people shift their fitness belief systems away from muscle isolation to compound or whole body training, consideration should be given to turning off or activating muscles before working out. This is something we should all think about.

Holding an isometric stretch for about 10 seconds can inhibit muscle activity and stunt elongation of muscles. You require dynamic movement to activate your muscles. Static stretching does not give you this.

In fact, just 5 seconds of stretching will develop a stretch tension. This causes muscles to experience reduced blood and oxygen flow. That may then increase the production of lactate and elevate your chances of experiencing muscle fatigue much faster.

However, some valid arguments that support static stretching do exist. For example, static stretching may help reduce blood cortisol levels that tend to increase during exercise and dynamic movements may not be suitable for beginners who lack stability.

After exercise, static stretching and myofascial release are actually great ideas. However, because they help increase muscle tissue extensibility, note that stretching post-workout may not reduce muscle soreness.

It may slightly boost tissue recovery and decrease discomfort however.

What about myofascial release?

The sooner you realize that soft tissue injuries are related to fascia or connective tissue and not muscle, the better your exercise experience will be.

Myofascia is connective tissue that wraps your muscles and internal organs and holds them in place. When your myofascial system is in good shape, it helps dissipate strain evenly, preventing a body part from experiencing excessive load.

However, your myofascial tissue is extremely active and is constantly subjected to strain and trauma, due to overuse or underuse and poor posture. All of this affects your nerve activity and blood flow, thereby causing reduced oxygen flow to muscles, poor muscle function and pain.

Self-myofascial release: The benefits

Incorporating myofascial release, before and after working out, comes with immense benefits. Some of these include:

According to research, myofascial release boosts vascular function by eliminating tension in the fascia. This gets rid of the restricted blood flow in an area, keeps your connective tissue hydrated and helps you recover much faster.

Improves ROM

Self-myofascial release helps boost range of motion, without affecting muscle activation, by breaking up connections in the fascia. This allows muscles and connective tissue to move much more freely while you work out.

Increases lymph movement

Your lymphatic system is a major part of your immune system, which fights infections and diseases in the body. Your lymphatic system does not have a pump, unlike the blood circulatory system.

So it relies only on your body movements to move lymph fluid. Myofascial release encourages the flow of lymph. Thereby boosting your overall health and wellness.

Maintains muscle length

Myofascial release relieves tension in the myofasciae and helps muscles return to their original length. This boosts muscular function during workouts.

Reduces muscle soreness

Myofascial release boosts blood circulation, which directly impacts the level of soreness you experience post-workout.

The better the circulation, the quicker the recovery.

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