YOGA MEETS SELF-MYOFASCIAL RELEASE
schedule a private session to combine massage, mobility, & recovery on your mat
Self myofascial release is a soft tissue therapy that is used to decrease a yogi's muscle/fascia immobility and discomfort. SMR is a form of self-massage that affects the nervous system and many tissues in the body including muscles, fascia, nerves, skin and blood vessels. Chronic tension and trauma can often increase muscular and fascial stress, leading these tissues to be fixed in a particular position, known as a myofascial restriction. Manipulation of the myofascial group can often help resolve the restriction by stimulating the nervous system in a way that helps improve glide among and between tissue layers. The practice has become increasingly popular for improving mobility, preventing injury, augmenting performance, and aiding in recovery from movement/exercise.
Chronic tension and trauma can often create a consistent sympathetic nervous system response (fight or flight) and can cause myofascial restrcitions as stated above. This tension can also increase heart rate and blood pressure, and impair sleep and immune system responses. Self myofascial release has been shown to relax the nervous system (increase parasympathetic nervous system activity), which helps to:
- Decrease tension, heart rate, blood pressure, inflammation and soreness
- Improve blood flow to tissues
- Promote faster recovery
- Improve proprioception
It’s easy to think of an SMR session as just part of your routine, but it’s important to have a goal that you are trying to accomplish. Without a goal, how can you measure your progress? Some examples of SMR benefits include:
Increase blood flow and reduce inflammation
Improve muscular range of motion to achieve more poses
Reduce muscle soreness
Promote quicker recovery to get back to the mat faster
Get mentally prepared to move and perform
Reduce arterial stiffness which is conducive to cardiovascular well-being
Helps to de-stress the body by reducing heart rate and blood pressure
Enhances mind-body connection to help you feel more grounded while performing on the mat or elsewhere (enhanced proprioception)
I recommend focusing on improving your mobility after performing SMR, not flexibility, because it’s the joint range of motion you can actively use when moving as opposed to what you’re capable of experiencing passively. For example, a person that is able to achieve a backbend likely has a good amount of mobility in their spine while a person who can only do this while on a stability ball may not. SMR opens up a window of opportunity to improve mobility. Make changes to the driver (your brain and nervous system), not the car (your muscles and fascia).
Self-myofascial release is a useful technique for increasing your mobility. RAD Yoga skillfully incorporates RAD mobility tools into yoga (asana) classes to allow for deeper release and greater body awareness. Incorporating SMR into your yoga classes and practice is like wearing fins when you go snorkeling... you become much more effective and efficient at achieving your goal. With regards to yoga, you are able to release fascia in order to increase both your passive and active range of motion, and create greater body awareness.
Some techniques of SMR are designed for preparing the muscles/body for
movement, while others are designed for recovery and rehabilitating injured muscles. While SMR is a powerful intervention technique on its own, it is most effective when followed by movement, such as yoga. The structural benefits of manual forces that alter tissue or joint mechanics don’t last very long unless we integrate it and get the muscles and joints moving. By integrating the release with functional movement we are able to create lasting change in your brain and the signals it sends to your body. That means that if you use the Block and Recovery Rounds on your hamstrings and follow that release with a successful, controlled, non-painful standing forward fold (Uttanasana), your hamstrings will find a new, deeper edge in tolerable range of motion (ROM). In other words, you will enjoy greater mobility and pain free movement; who doesn’t want that?