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Self-Myofascial Release: What is it and why is it important?

Updated: Jul 26, 2023

Self-myofascial Release (SMR) is a form of tool assisted, self-massage that is used to release muscle tension, improve flexibility and boost movement efficiency. SMR can be done with a variety of tools such as foam rollers, gua sha stones, tennis and trigger point balls.

I discovered the practice years ago during marathon training when I was experiencing injuries in my hip and knee. It’s a practice that can be to yourself and the more you do it, the more your body will respond.

It’s mid-March and cold in Brooklyn as I write this and I have both cold weather and self-myofascial release on the brain which leads me to draw the comparison between self-myofascial release and ice boats (those steel nose boats that cruise down the Hudson River to break up the ice.

I’ll explain the connection…

I went to college upstate in Poughkeepsie, NY. I used to row on the Hudson River. During our indoor winter training, I’d see the ice cutter boat going up and down the river. When the Hudson starts to freeze and the ice builds up, the Coast Guard sends a pointy bow-ed boat down the river. The boat breaks up the forming ice so other boat traffic can pass thru and get where they need to go.

The ice doesn’t go away in one pass, rather, with each pass, the ice separates a bit more, a bit more, then water can pass thru, then boats can pass thru.

Without the ice breaker, the ice would expand, grow and no boats would pass.

If you’re a nerd like me, here’s a good reference for this breakup of the ice.

So what does that have to do with our bodies?

That ice is like the adhesions and knotted tissue in our body.

Injuries, suboptimal movement patterns and stress are the Winter that causes the adhesions & knots..

The practice of myofascial release is the ice cutter boat.

By moving and rolling (on yoga balls!), we can break up the knotted tissues caused by life. In each rolling session, the adhesions break up a bit more, then a little bit more. Then all of a sudden the range of motion in that stiff body part increases, more blood and nutrients can flow into that area. It’s a positive, upward spiral.

Who doesn’t want that?!

Rolling breaks up the ice, the more you roll the more the body responds and continues to move more freely.

And that’s exactly what we do at The Danaher Method. Taking the last 10 minutes of each class to practice self-myofascial release, break up the ice, reduce stress and leave us feeling taller, lighter and more relaxed.

As the Coast Guard says in the video,

We need the track to be maintained…the more passes we take, the wider we can make that track and the softer the ice is…

…Just like myofascial release helps to maintain the health of the fascial network. Keeping our bodies internal scaffolding, soft and fluid.

If you want to start your self-myofascial release practice, check out this free hip release sequence here!


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