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Sunday, February 10, 2013

8 Foam Rolling Techniques for Stretching & Injury Prevention

By performing Self-Myofascial Release techniques on a simple piece of foam, you can improve flexibility, function, performance, and reduce injuries. 

Kinetic Chain Concepts

The kinetic chain is made up of the soft tissue system (muscle, tendon, ligament, and fascia), neural system (nerves and CNS), and articular system (joints)6. The kinetic chain works as an integrated functional unit. All components of the kinetic chain exist interdependently. If one segment is not functioning efficiently, then the other components must compensate, leading to tissue overload, fatigue, faulty movement patterns, and finally initiates the Cumulative Injury Cycle3,5,10,12.
For example, muscle tightness restricts the range of motion that a joint may be moved. Because of muscle restriction (tightness, soft tissue adhesions, and neural-hyperactivity), joint motion is altered, thus changing normal neural feedback to the CNS (central nervous system). Ultimately, neuromuscular efficiency is compromised, which leads to poor movement patterns, inducing premature fatigue and causing injury. The SMFR (Self-Myofascial Release) Program helps improve muscular balance and performance.

Benefits of Self-Myofascial Release

• Corrects muscle imbalances
• Improves joint range of motion
• Relieves muscle soreness and joint stress
• Decreases neuromuscular hypertonicity
• Increases extensibility of musculotendinous junction
• Improves neuromuscular efficiency
• Maintains normal functional muscular length

How Does it Work?

Two basic neural receptors are located in skeletal muscle tissue. These receptors are the muscle spindle and the golgi tendon organ. Muscle Spindles are located parallel to the muscle fibers. They record changes in fiber length, and rate of change to the CNS5,9. This triggers the myotatic stretch reflex, which reflexively shortens muscle tissue, alters the normal length-tension relationship, and often induces pain1,2,5. Golgi Tendon Organs (GTO) are located at the musculotendinous junction. They are sensitive to change in tension and rate of tension change2,5,7,8. Stimulation of the GTO's past a certain threshold inhibits the muscle spindle activity, and decreases muscular tension. This phenomenon is referred to as autogenic inhibition2,4,7,11. It is said to be "autogenic" because the contracting agonist is inhibited by its' own receptors. Reduction in soft-tissue tension decreases pain, restores normal muscle length-tension relationships, and improves function.
General Guidelines

The Instruction:

• Hold each position 1-2 minutes for each side (when applicable). If pain is reported, stop rolling and REST on the painful areas for 30-45 seconds.

• Continuing to roll when pain is present activates the muscle spindles, causing increased tightness and pain.

• Resting 30-45 seconds on painful areas will stimulate the GTO and autogenically inhibit the muscle spindles; reducing muscular tension and will help regulate fascial receptors. Maintain proper Draw-In Position, which provides stability to the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex during rolling. Clients can perform SMFR Program 1-2 times daily.

Suggested Readings

• Integrated Training for the New Millennium, NASM. 2000
• NASM Optimum Performance Training for the Performance Enhancement Specialist educational course
• Clark MA, Russell AM: Low back pain: A functional perspective.
• Corn R: Neurologic rationale for integrated training.


1. Alter MJ: Science of Flexibility. Second Edition. Human Kinetics. 1996
2. Basmanjian JV (3rd ed): Therapeutic Exercise. Williams and Wilkins, Baltimore. 1978
3. Chaitow L: Muscle Energy Techniques. New York , Churchill Livingstone. 1997
4. Clark MA: Integrated Training for the New Millennium. NASM, Thousand Oaks. 2000
5. Downey J, Darling R: Physiological Basis of Rehabilitation Medicine. WB Saunders, Philadelphia . 1971
6. Grigg P: Peripheral neural mechanisms in proprioception. J. Sports. Rehab. 3:2-17, 1994
7. Gummerson T: Mobility Training for the Marital Arts. A & C Black. 1990
8. Liebenson C: Rehabilitation of the Spine – A Practitioners Manual. Williams and Wilkins. 1995
9. Sady SP, Wortman M, Blanke D: Flexibility training: ballistic, static, or proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation? Arch. Phys. Med. Rehabil. Jun:63(6): 261-262. 1982
10. Selye H: The Stress of Life. McGraw-Hill, New York. 1984

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