Myofascial Release Exercises for Your Fitness Classes
By: CarolAnn, M.S., CPT, CN
In addition to relieving muscle and joint soreness and improving flexibility, your fitness students are interested in foam rolling to enhance their fitness performance. However, for many, foam rolling is boring, time consuming, and confusing to them…if they do it on their own. They would love for you, as their fitness instructor, to teach them how to regain mobility and flexibility in a structured, fun way through self-myofascial release (SMR).
What is the Myofascial System?
The myofascial system is comprised of skeletal muscles and fascia. Fascia, also known as connective tissue, is a three-dimensional matrix that acts as a protective shield and supports the muscles. It is a web-like tissue that extends from the skull to the soles of the feet. It acts as protection for the skeletal muscles and keeps the muscle groups together.
The word “fascia” is taken from Latin meaning a “band or bandage”. Fascia was traditionally thought to relate to only skeletal musculature. However, in 2012, the International Fascia Research Congress in Vancouver, Canada, announced that fascia is not restricted to merely musculoskeletal tissue but also all of the soft tissues found in the human body. Fascia binds and connects every muscle and connects the muscles to the tendons, joints and bones.
According to new research on fascia, muscles do not transmit the full force of their strength through the tendons to the bone but distribute the force onto the fascial network. This force, running through the fascial network, calls upon the synergists and antagonistic muscles to assist in the resulting movement.
Fascia, unlike ligaments and tendons, is a “loose” connective tissue that has a woven appearance.
Tightness vs. Trigger Points
Tightness: Muscle tightness can be seen in muscles that may be inflexible and can cause discomfort upon stretching. Example is tight hamstrings and not being able to straighten the knee.
Trigger Points: A trigger point is “a hyperirritable locus (point) within a taut band of skeletal muscle, located in the muscular tissue and/or its associated fascia”. Trigger points are points in the muscle that are manifested as “knots” in the actual muscle tissue. These “knots” can be felt when pressure is placed on the muscle. The applied pressure can cause pain to radiate from the area of pressure to another area. Example is rolling out the IT band and the pain radiating up and down the leg.
Conditions that affect the binding and remodeling of the fascia network include trauma/injury, inflammation, poor posture, dysfunctional movement and dehydration. As a matter of fact, myofascial tissue is comprised of 70-80% water which allows the layers of fascia to glide over each other readily. Due to this high-water content, it is suggested that dehydration of the fascia could be the possible root cause of conditions such as chronic pain, fatigue and muscle aches. In addition to the water stored in fascial tissue, the gel-like fluid of the ground substance provides lubrication between the layers of fascial tissue.
Teach SMR to Your Fitness Classes
Self-Myofascial Release (SMR) is a technique that can be used to reduce or eliminate trigger points in the muscles by applying pressure to specific areas/points of the body. SMR can be performed by using either one’s hands or different equipment such as foam rollers, half rollers, and/or tennis balls. To introduce foam rolling to your classes, begin with these 3 exercises sprinkled in with the stretch at the end of your class.
When your students love what you have done for them in a short period of time, they will be ready for an entire 30-minute fee-based class!
*Sources provided upon request.
To find out more about how you can make SMR sexy with Pilates within your classes, join CarolAnn at the next SCW MANIA® (Atlanta: www.scwfit.com/atlanta) Also, visit www.FiTOUR.com to receive a free FiTOUR Primary Myofascial Release Certification.
CarolAnn, M.S., the creator of Chiseled Faith®, is a 25-year industry veteran holding positions such as program director, studio owner, educator, presenter, and author. She has developed programs for organizations such as FiTOUR, Hydracize, MedFit Network, and PT Global. Along with producing and starring in several fitness videos, she is a health and fitness expert contributor for publications such as Livestrong, PFP, and New Tampa Style Magazine. She is currently on the Health Advisory Board for MedFit Network. She has been selected to be a 2019-2021 National Fitness Hall of Fame Fitness Superstar.