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Okay, we’ve all heard about “rolling out” by now, and seen people contorting themselves over pieces of foam and balls, but why bother?

Well, often a weak muscle is a tight muscle, and movement patterns can become compromised because the tight muscle needs to relax a bit before it can even stretch properly, let alone get strengthened.

Basic principles for Myofascial Release

  • If you have a diagnosed problem with the valves that return blood to your heart, myofascial rolling is not for you
  • When rolling, just make sure that you don’t get a feeling of crunching your bones. This is about soft tissue only. (“Myo” means “muscle,” and “fascia” is a type of connective tissue that binds together our muscles and organs.)
  • Be especially careful to never put pressure on your vertebrae (spine).
  • Also be careful to not overwork the outside of your hips. This can aggravate the bursae, which are fluid-filled sacs that reduce friction over bones, and can eventually lead to bursitis.

Remember to Breathe!

  • As long as discomfort remains at about a level 3 or 4 out of 10, just breathe and send it out of your body, perhaps through your toes. If discomfort reaches 5 or 6+ out of 10, it’s time to reduce the amount of pressure on that body part, or stop for the moment.
  • Any discomfort should go away as soon as you’re off the roller or ball.
  • Short and frequent self-treatment is best, say a few minutes at a time.
  • Either do 10-12 rolls per “hot spot,” or 30-60 seconds if you prefer the “hold and compress” method.
  • After rolling out, your muscles are more receptive to being stretched (gently!) — and remember, never stretch a cold muscle.
  • It’s critical to “set” the area after rolling with some type of stability work. An example would be after rolling the quads, you might practice some one-legged balance.

NOTE: This is not a substitute for medical advice.