When it comes to stiff muscles or an ache, many might attribute it to the lack of stretching or stiff joints. Furthermore, during one’s pre/post exercise or overall self-care routine, most only pay attention to stretching but neglect the modality that poses many benefits not only for competitive athletes but also for theoccasional exerciser – myofascial release.
According to the Interntaional Journal of Health Sciences and Research, myofascial release refersto “the manual massage technique for stretching the fascia and releasing bonds between fascia and integuments, muscles, bones, with the goal of eliminating pain, increasing range of motion and balancing the body. The fascia is manipulated directly or indirectly, allowing the connective tissue fibers to reorganize themselves into a more flexible, functional fashion.” Basically, when our muscles are being placed under pressures and/or strains during physical activity or just repetitive movement, muscle knots begin to form.
Muscle knots are the hard and sensitive areas of muscles that tighten and contract even when the muscle is at rest and since they are so tense, myofascial release might hurt a lot, as some of you might have experienced. These muscle knots are also known as trigger points and the aim of myofascial release is to ease the pain experienced from the tension and tightness of these trigger points by massaging the muscles and fascia that house these knots.
Although it might be uncomfortable at the start, your muscles will feel better as myofascial release is a well-known and effective way of alleviating pain and discomfort, be it caused by muscle knots or a more acute/temporary pain. This is because the muscles are massaged and stimulated, where the trigger points are given a literal release from the pressure they’ve been under. Think of it as releasing a literal knot.
So how exactly do you perform myofascial release? Well, there are a variety of accessories people use to go about this, be it a foam roller, a lacrosse ball, tennis ball, peanut or the newly trending massage gun. All these accessories are intended to help release the trigger points in our body, and the product used is mostly up to each individual’s preference. When I was first introduced to myofascial release, I started out with a smooth foam roller, then moved on to foam rollers with different kinds of spikes or ridges that was harder and thus more focused pressure. However, like many others, I absolutely hate foam rolling as the discomfort discourages me and I was lazy to spend so much time of my day pre/post exercise foam rolling. This is when I tried out targeted vibration products from Power Plate, and this takes myofascial release to the next level. As it is medically certified and with vast research proven, I had no qualms about its safety.
With the targeted vibration, myofascial release happens so much quicker than usual and elicits even greater benefits.
The PowerPlate pulse, which is essentially a massage gun, is useful for body parts where you can reach on your own is useful for body parts where you can reach on your own and it comes with 6 different attachments and 4 vibration levels, going up to 3300 vibrations per minute.
*On a side note, I would like to take this time to encourage all to be weary when purchasing vibrating massage products. This is because in the human body, we have a certain vibrational frequency and if we use products that are not in harmony with our own vibrational frequency, it could be dangerous!
Anyway, if a massage gun is not your thing and you still prefer a roller, the PowerPlate Roller could be your new best friend as the vibration levels go up to 3700 vibrations per minute. It is also smaller than your regular roller, thus more portable. Besides this, my favourite product is the PowerPlate DualSphere, which is essentially a vibrating peanut.
This is amazing for those who suffer from back discomfort just like me, as both sides of the back muscles get alleviated without the spinal disc protrusions in the way.
With 3 vibration levels, it can go up to 4000 vibrations per minute, hence more efficient and in turn shortening the time needed for me to go through the discomfort of myofascial release but still providing the same, or dare I say, even better effects.
Furthermore, myofascial release can increase range of motion. For injured individuals, reduced range of motion is usually experienced but there is a risk of further injury if one works on increasing their range of motion by overstretching or hyperextending beyond their limit. Myofascial release includes the relaxation of contracted muscles and the stimulation of stretch reflexes in hypotonic muscles, thus contributing to improved mobility and range of motion. Aside from injured individuals, myofascial release can also improve range of motion and mobility for those who participate in exercise, whereby overall performance is enhanced by increased range of motion. Massage combined with vibration can induce ‘tissue creep’, which is a change in length of the tissues that may be shortened via postural or nervous system biases. This means that myofascial release can be incorporated into pre-exercise warm up routines, where research has consistently shown that it can increase muscle flexibility, which means you feel less tight and probably perform your workouts with better, more efficient and safer form.
For those of you who exercise, delayed onset muscle soreness or DOMS for short, is something we have all suffered from and it is definitely not the fun part of exercise. Myofascial release comes in handy here by not only speeding up the recovery process, but to prevent this from happening in the first place. Studies have previously shown that self-myofascial release decreased DOMS by 50% in the massaged leg and increased the hip range of motion by almost 4.2%. Clinical literature supporting vibration and massage has also demonstrated to improve and reduce the recovery time between workouts and after fatigue to be 20-50% faster. This is definitely an important factor if you want to train smarter or perform higher in whatever sport or activity.
Fascia is a dense connective tissue that connects the entire body, essentially sheets made of biological fabric that run through the whole body. Just like cells inside organs, fascia holds water. The act of massaging itself during myofascial release could improve blood flow and overall circulation to the muscles and fascia. However, vibration brings about even better circulation in the body, bringing a rapid delivery of oxygenated blood and nutrients needed for the muscles and fascia to function well, enhancing the healing process of structures that may be suffering from fatigue and overwork during exercise. Good circulation is something everyone should maintain. Benefits of good circulation include healthier muscle and organs, thanks to improved blood and oxygen flow as well as waste removal, better immunity since the white blood cells (our immune cells) are able to travel around the body with ease, and better overall health.
If you are looking for products to perform self-myofascial release, I suggest checking out the PowerPlate targeted vibration products, sold on our online shop. Otherwise, do visit our studios if you would like to have a look in person! Happy releasing!