If you aren’t doing the mobility activity that I’m about to describe below, you are not as strong nor as flexible as you should be. In conjunction with yoga or other resistance training, this activity will help you get stronger and faster in less time than you even imagined was possible.
So… what am I talking about?
Self-myofascial release (SMR).
Okay… what is that? Basically, SMR is getting knots out of your muscles. It’s something that I started doing about a year ago, and I attribute this, a few simple pulling exercises, and yoga to healing my shoulders completely.
But SMR doesn’t just work on your shoulders. It works on your whole body. Anywhere that you have knots, SMR will help.
A lot of people wonder why they are not getting more flexible, even though they are doing yoga consistently. The reason might be because you are naturally tight, but a more optimistic way of looking at your inflexibility would say that the reason is because you have knots in your muscles, and knots are very hard to get out with just stretching alone.
Take, for example, a rope. This rope has a knot in it. I believe that we can all safely assume that as long as this knot is in the rope, the rope will not be as long as it possibly can be, right?
The same applies to your muscles. When you have knots in your muscles, your muscles are not being used efficiently. Tightness in one area causes your body to use a muscle that is already supple. But this often leads to overexertion of that supple muscle, which results in strains or tears.
Enter SMR. Using SMR on these knots allows your body to utilize the muscle the way that it is supposed to be used, and your muscles can begin to correct the imbalance that the knotted muscle is causing.
SMR can be done in a number of ways, but the most effective method is trigger point therapy with a mobility tool, such as a lacrosse ball or foam roller. Lacrosse balls are great because they are dense and rounded, which means you can pinpoint the area you are trying to target. However, using a lacrosse ball is difficult because it is a ball – it rolls around, it moves when you don’t want it to, and this means that it can painfully slide into places where you don’t want it.
Foam rollers are also SMR tools, but most people don’t take the time that they should on a foam roller to facilitate SMR. They move too quickly, and though they are causing circulation in the muscles that might otherwise not happen, they are not significantly helping to reduce knots. Additionally, foam rollers are too large to pinpoint certain areas, so it is hard to find the trigger point necessary to release the knot. PVC pipes are a good alternative to foam rollers, but these are very firm. Accidentally rolling over a bone with a PVC pipe is painful, and similar to the foam roller, these do not allow you to target effectively.
The solution is a KnotOut, a mobility tool that has the ability to target as effectively as a lacrosse ball, but lacks the roundness of a lacrosse ball that makes it difficult to keep the ball in place. KnotOuts come in various sizes (extra small, small, medium, large and XXL), so that you can pick the right mobility tool for the job.
I have a number of videos that I am releasing on YouTube over the next couple of weeks that properly demonstrate how to use a KnotOut, including tutorials on the following topics:
8) Head / Neck
As soon as I started using SMR, I couldn’t believe that I had gone so long without doing it. Self-myofascial release has the ability to greatly reduce the amount of time it takes for you to achieve the range of motion that you desire.
I have a deal with KnotOut that will get you a 10% discount using the code “ManFlowYoga” at checkout. If you’re new to mobility, I recommend purchasing the medium-sized firm KnotOut, although my personal favorite tool is the KnotOut Maxx-15 Firm (or the Large KnotOut – Firm), reason being because it is the largest and allows for the most efficient (and quickest) mobility session.