Self-Myofascial Release: Get Rolling!

Self-Myofascial Release (SMR) is a self-massage technique that aids in the recovery of soft muscle tissue and has been shown to improve overall health and fitness. Think of it as though you’re giving your body a deep-tissue massage. Research has shown that SMR augments joint range of motion, enhances athletic performance, increases muscle resiliency, and prevents injury. SMR also corrects muscle imbalance, aids in muscle relaxation, and decreases muscle inflammation and soreness. I use foam rollers, but it can also be done with tennis balls (many with plantar fasciitis roll their feet over a tennis ball), hand-held devices, or medicine balls. Interestingly, the body reacts to foam rolling as if the muscles have been injured, immediately sending receptors to aid in repair. By confusing your own body, SMR can increase rapid muscle recovery. Foam rolling also improves vascular endothelial functioning, the organ system that regulates blood flow based on muscle movement. One study showed that subjects who used SMR with a foam roller before doing vertical jumps had significantly less fatigue than those who didn’t use a foam roller prior to the drill.

 foam rollers

If you’ve had a great back/neck massage, or given one, you may recall the “pop” when rolling over a muscle knot. It continues to pop if pressure is applied back and forth across the muscle. Pressing directly on the muscle helps release the knot; but it can be uncomfortable. As tight muscles turn over the foam roller, the same “pop” will occur. I’m not going to lie, it won’t feel great. But, you’ll become accustomed to the sensation. The key is to roll slowly and stop for about 30-60 seconds when you hit a tender spot. Allow your muscles to relax. Just give into it. Continue breathing while the muscles release. It’s important to maintain core stability by pulling the navel towards the spine (without rounding the back) while rolling. Using the proper technique will take practice. *It should be noted that those with congestive heart failure, kidney (or any organ) failure, or any organ failure, bleeding disorders, or contagious skin conditions should not participate in SMR without medical clearance.

Although, during the action of SMR, rolling over knotted muscles may be a little painful, the benefits far outweigh any discomfort. The discomfort is not bad! You are giving your body an amazing gift. I have a love/hate relationship with my foam rollers; but I can definitely say it’s more love. Rollers come in many different styles and lengths. Pick the one that’s right for you! The roller in the picture has some added pressure points; but I also have a solid foam roller. I can feel a huge difference in my muscle strength and flexibility when I use the roller on a regular basis. Breathe and remember that your muscles will thank you later. Now, get to rolling!

References:

Penney, S., Foam Rolling- Applying the Technique of Self-Myofascial Release, National Association of Sports Medicine, August 2013.

Keller, J. The Benefits of Self-Myofascial Release, IDEA Fitness Journal; 2013: 96.

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What does “perfect” look like? Unfortunately, there’s an app for that~

I came across an advertisement for “beauty apps” that can drastically change a photo to how a person “should” look. One of these apps is called “Selfie Photo Editor.” Taking a picture from your phone, you use the app to make at least 15 different changes to the photo to make the person look pretty and perfect. Without these changes, we would obviously just be plain ugly, right? It enlarges eyes, plumps lips, adds eyelashes and eyeliner, thins your face and cheeks, and will even apply a tanning filter… Seriously? Another app, “Beauty Plus” shows the photo of a young girl and different options for photo editing such as face lifts, eye enhancement, fixing “imperfect” skin, adding “beauty filters,” and a “magic brush” to finish up. Face lifts for 13 year-olds? Wow…stunned. An app called “Hot Girls Salon” is a game to “take girls who are waiting for a night on the town and make them hot-looking.” (Literally, that’s what it says.) Getting ready involves heavy makeup, perfect hair, certain “hot” clothes, and completely distorted cartoon versions of how a girl’s body is built.

selfie

**From the “Selfie Photo Editor”- https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/selfie-photo-editor-cosmetic/id781409730?mt=8 by OMJ Holdings Pty Ltd (same as below)

Through my years as a school psychologist, I’ve seen the pressure girls, even elementary school girls, feel to look like women in magazines, on the internet, on TV, etc. who they see as “perfect.” Honestly, it is just heartbreaking. Our girls are just pushing to grow up too fast, wearing clothing they believe will attract boys, putting on heavy makeup, and even talking about plastic surgery. Teens are still kids! The crazy thing is that teenage girls have full access to download these apps. So, they are constantly being exposed to the underlying message that who they are isn’t good enough. Do you know what teenage girls need? They need to feel empowered, strong, and confident in who they are, just as they are. It is up to us as adults to teach and give them what they need. Without that, where do our young girls turn to for advice? Exactly~ social media, apps, magazines, etc. Yet, adults are the ones creating these apps. Something is wrong with this cycle; and it is our responsibility to stop it.

You are perfect exactly the way you are. I don’t know why the world is always telling us we have to change ourselves. Whether it’s how we dress, do our hair, or put on makeup, we’re never “good enough.” Who determines the standards for how we “should” be? Decide for yourself. Now, I believe in being classy and having self-respect in appearance and actions. Before alarms start going off in your head; I don’t mean people need expensive clothes nor need to act “prim, proper, and perfect.” Be yourself. Be you. It doesn’t matter if you make your own clothes, buy them from thrift shops, get them at the mall, or go to expensive boutiques. I think, as women, we all know how to dress to demand respect. What I’m trying to say is; cover it up ladies.

In regards to actions, I don’t think there is a “right” and “wrong” way to act (to a certain extent). You don’t need to change who you are, EVER. Who cares if someone doesn’t like you? It’s not your responsibility to make the rest of the world happy. However, I don’t think actions should be cruel or offensive to other people or in public. Ladies, when you’re out, sing out loud to your favorite song, dance, and be yourself. But, when you start swearing like a sailor and saying “F” this and “F” that, people take notice. Not in a good way. You could have the perfect makeup, the most expensive clothes, the “best” body, but when you lower the standards for yourself, the rest of the world lowers them too.

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Have fun. Laugh and smile. Get mad. Cry. Forgive. Apologize and admit when you are wrong. Make mistakes. Fix mistakes. However, this concept society has created about “being a lady” dictates a certain way women need to be- quiet, reserved, dainty, etc. I don’t think we need to change who we are to be “a lady.” Honestly, I know I wouldn’t fall into this stereotype; and I’m fine with that. I laugh as loudly as I want, love football, playing sports, trip and fall (or get distracted rollerblading, hit a curb, and wipe out into the grass!), and will listen to whatever music I want. True, I like to dress in a way that makes me feel good, do my hair, and wear makeup. But, that’s just me! You may be completely different and just as happy! Why would we all want to be the same? We are not definitions; we are people. That’s why the constant pursuit of skinniness and dieting is so frustrating to me. It’s another definition of how a woman “should” be.

It’s ridiculous that the world holds us to certain standards. But, it’s more ridiculous society tells us that if we don’t follow these rules, serious repercussions will result. Have you ever told yourself or have someone tell you: “Well, if you’re not (fill in the blank… skinny)” or “If you don’t have (fill in the blank… perfect makeup); you’ll never find a guy, get that job, or be loved. Unfortunately, I’m sure we have all done this, including myself. What I’ve realized throughout my journey is that I needed to stop fighting, trying to change, or living to meet someone else’s standards. You are amazing, and the most important people in your life will see that. If they don’t, they aren’t worth having in your life.

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