Last week I was having a conversation with someone about how he had sublet his apartment and come back to find a lacrosse ball and was like ?¿? only to find out that it was for muscular trigger point release and now he swears by it and takes it with him any time he travels. I thought yeah, okay, I also have a lacrosse ball and occasionally look like a massive weirdo rolling myself all over my wall with a grimace on my face. And yes, people get really into the first thing that brings them pain relief, who wouldn’t want to keep doing something that relieves their pain? It did make me think about how I should consider adding this topic to my queue… but here’s the real reason I am choosing to write about this for this week, the next morning I walked into a client’s office and there was a jar of small balls for, you guessed it, trigger point release. So what’s the deal? Why is everyone throwing balls at me?
WHAT is myofasical release? Myofasical release is a “technique that involves applying gentle sustained pressure into the Myofascial connective tissue restrictions to eliminate pain and restore motion.”
What do you use myofasical release for? To relieve trigger points! What’s a trigger point?? A muscle knot! You know, when you feel really tense and there is tightness in one of your muscles bellies and you feel as though there is a big old knot in there. What do you do? We just can’t always afford to have someone else work out our knots for us (ie. massage therapist, physical therapist, trainer, etc.). But lucky for you there are plenty of self release methods! So what exactly are the benefits of doing self myofascial release? Doing this can help with muscles tension and soreness, improve range of motion (if at a joint), increase flexibility, muscle imbalance correction, as well as maintaining normal muscular function.
Lacrosse Balls or Small Rubber Balls:
These are my go to options. You can pinpoint target your specific trigger point and place the ball directly on the point of pain/tension. You can try to contract and relax your targeted muscle to work out the knot… or you can roll around on it and focus primarily on that specific spot if you can’t figure out how to contract/relax the specific muscle.
Foam Roller and Rolling Massage Stick:
The major key to making sure that you’re using a roller correctly is to make sure you are going in the direct of the muscle fibers! For example, the image below is rolling out the iliotibial band, rolling this out requires 3 slightly different directions (one as shown below, one slightly leaned back, and one slightly leaning forward) and you need to go from a bit higher up on the leg than shown below to just past the knee. It will not be comfortable but the end result is so wonderful feeling. I would love to show you a picture of myself doing this but I honestly hate it so much that my facial expression only shows pure agony. (Yeesss, I’m selling it so well, I know I know.)
Need help in figuring out which way to roll? ➡️ Beginner’s Guide to Foam Rolling
If you’re not sure if you’re doing it right or something feels off, please please PLEASE see someone who is trained in using these items and ask them for help! Not to knock basic personal trainers but I am suggesting you go to your physical therapists, chiropractors, massage therapists, kinesiologists, athletic trainers, etc. for help in learning how to do the releases correctly. There are plenty of knowledgeable trainers out there but there are also many that do not know what they are doing (this is a rant I could go on about forever but I will refrain from making you read my angry rant about the training sessions I’ve witnessed that teach incorrect form and techniques).
Don’t trust me? ➡️ International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy
Please excuse me, I am going to go rolling around with some balls now… 😜😉