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The myofascial system is made up of muscle and fascia, a tough sheet of connective tissue that envelopes muscle fibres. Through injury, overtraining, poor posture, poor movement mechanics and insufficient recovery, painful “trigger points” can build up in the myofascial system. These trigger points are often described as adhesions and occur in areas of tight muscle where muscle fibres and fascia effectively become stuck together. This can restrict movement about a joint, and also places strain on surrounding tissues which must compensate for the weakness and can lead to injury.

Myofascial release is a massage technique used to break down the adhesions and increase extensibility of the muscle. There are two types of myofascial release which are used by practitioners:

  • Direct pressure – direct pressure to adhesion, breaks down adhesions and scar tissue
  • Sweeping pressure – long strokes along full length of muscle, reduces muscle tension and promotes soft tissue extensibility.

Foam rolling or 5kg solid Medicine ball for more specific trigger points is a technique for self-administering myofascial release. The technique involves applying pressure to the target area using the foam roller or medicine ball, and manipulating the position by rolling backwards and forwards along the length of the muscle. Using the foam roller is a cost effective way of achieving full body massage, leading to improved performance and reduced risk of injury. This rolling technique has been shown to significantly increase mobility when performed in conjunction with traditional stretching routines. Using the foam roller every day before stretching exercises helps to enhance mobility which could impact on both performance and injury prevention.

This could be done either after training, or at a later part of the day away from training, as post-training. By releasing the fascia then only can the muscle be stretched effectively.