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By: Diana M Palmer, MS, ATC, EMT
Foam rolls are incorporated into work outs to allow active individuals to perform self myofascial release, or SMR. These have become more and more popular in the last five years as we learn more about fascia.
Why is it important to release, or unwind, fascia? Fascia is an amazingly complex and 3-dimensional tissue. Not only does it surround muscles, but it actually composes a dynamic web of strong fibers that wind between cells connecting and impacting far-distant body parts. For example, a tight, or bound fascial causing pain in the ankle can affect the knee, hip, low back, and wind it’s way up to the shoulder.
How do you know if you have tight fascia? For many years fascial pain went undiagnosed and patients were treated for chronic muscle strains, joint pain, sprains, and re-occurring injuries that returned despite rest/rehab. Trauma, repetitive movements (golf, tennis, computer work) and even prolonged positional postures (i.e. sitting or standing for hours) can be possible causes of fascial binding patterns. Flexibility, mobility, and strength can all be affected.
If stretching and massage only temporarily alleviate a tightness or pain, or possibly make the pain increase, if you feel “restricted” and cannot perform full movement at a joint, experience low grade chronic pain syndromes (including headaches, TMJ, neck pain, shoulder pain, knee pain) it may be time to research fascial pain and injuries with a health care professional. There are many health care practitioners trained to evaluate and treat fascial pain. Physical therapists, chiropractors, acupuncturists, certified athletic trainers, and massage therapists can help guide you in your evaluation. There are many causes of chronic pain and repetitive injuries, so I strongly recommend meeting with a trained individual before beginning your own program.
Anatomy Trains, the Graston Technique website, and SMR (self myofascial release) are available on the web and are great resources. These sights highlight fascia’s role in the body, how to prevent injuries, and how to treat injuries when they do occur.
The socio-emotional aspect of sport works in tandem with the integrative approach—giving players and exercisers a way to relieve stress, cope with life’s daily obstacles, or rally as a unit just for the fun of it.
Disclaimer: I’m on a rant. I’ll admit it. I’m frustrated with the wellness industry and I’m probably going to tick some people off with what I’ve got to say. But it needs to be said, so let’s get into it…
Those of you who know me or have read my stuff over the last few years know well that I am not a trend or fad follower (as much as I can help it). Most of the time I find myself running in the opposite direction whenever a new one rears its ugly head. I don’t know if this is something I began doing later in life or if I’ve been this way for a while. My latest favorite from an exercise program that shall remain nameless is the tagline:
Truth is, I find trends either cost too much money, waste too much time, are a different (not better) twist on something we’ve already got, or aren’t backed by enough research to warrant my attention. I’ll admit it…it could be my age, it could be because I’m cheap, or it could even be because I’m a pessimist. But…
Anti Aging??? Come on. I find this is one of the silliest things the wellness and beauty industries are pushing.
It wasn’t that long ago that elders were to be respected and revered for their life experience and wisdom, was it? What happened to that type of thinking? How did we get here and where did the health and wellness industry start going wrong?
I’ve had a number of conversations with those older (and much wiser) than I over the past few years and I have come truly appreciate their perspectives on some of these issues.
Encouragements? Stop buying what the media is selling. It’ll decrease your worry and increase your bank account. If that means getting rid of your TV or cable so you aren’t inundated with these ridiculous messages…do it. If that means selecting different reading material…do it. If that means spending time with different people who care about the things you want to care about…do it. It’s worth it. While the health and wellness industry has made some strides, we are certainly making some big mistakes…and this is one of them.