If you do a lot of training and exercise, it’s important to make sure that you’re looking after your muscles in between gym days and giving them what they need to recover properly. Otherwise, you run the risk of sustaining a potentially long-term injury, which could keep you out of the gym… and no one wants that!
When your muscles get tight through exercise, they can form all sorts of hard little knots. When we train, the fibres in our muscles expand and contract and, if they seize up, they then have trouble expanding again.
Muscle fibres can also tear as you exercise and this can leave you experiencing stiffness after a training session, which is why it’s important to build up the intensity of your training gradually over time.
You can also help keep your muscles well hydrated and working as they should through self-myofascial release.
Fascia is the thin casing of connective tissue that holds every muscle, nerve fibre, bone, blood vessel and organ in place within your body and this can tighten up through exercise as well, so knowing how to release this tension is key if you want to continue training optimally over the years.
Think about what happens when you go to the physio… you receive targeted deep tissue massages at various points around your body. This is basically what myofascial release is: putting pressure on parts of the body that are holding tension, so you can release this tension and allow the muscle fibres to work more freely.
Getting started with myofascial release isn’t difficult and weaving it into your regular gym sessions can make a huge difference to your overall performance. Bear in mind that it can be quite painful depending on how tight your muscles are, so you may want to start off slowly with a foam roller and build it up from there.
Once you’ve gone over your tight spots with the foam roller, you can go even deeper into the release by using something like a hockey ball. Simply find a painful spot on your body and really focus your attention on it with the ball… but remember that you need to keep the muscles relaxed in order for it to be effective.
You don’t need to press down too hard at first and it all depends on the level of tightness you have as to how much pressure will be required. Deep breathing and pressing down harder on the exhale can help you really get in there and target the issues, but this is something you may want to build up to if you are finding it very painful.
There are also lots of other ways you can help give your fascia a big treat, everything from hitting the sauna to cryotherapy. Hydration is also key where fascia health is concerned, so make sure you’re drinking enough water regularly throughout the day.
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