“Myo” is Greek for muscle. “Fascia” is the tough outer lining of a
muscle that holds it in place. Myofascial exercises are those which simultaneously target your muscles and your fascia tissue.
Myofascial Release – Trigger Points
Many of you might be familiar with the increasingly popular myofascial release technique, including trigger point release by foam rolling. Poor posture, overuse of muscles and joints and injuries of muscles and nearby joints can all cause tightness and leading to pain. While massaging the painful area, you might feel a knob. This knob is also called a “trigger point”. Foam rolling around the affected area can bring release.
One way of reducing the tightness around the trigger point is exercise. Your goal is to stretch the painful muscle, improve posture, and restore healthy muscle use. Ideally you combine foam rolling and dynamic stretching exercises as shown below.
Fascial exercises are slightly different compared to more traditional versions. Instead of staying in one plane of a movement, you try to address your muscles and joints in a 3D approach. While getting into a certain position, you add a gentle twist.
Here are 4 examples for you to try:
Exercise #1: Chest Figure 8
Start in an upright stand, place both of your hands on the outside of your rib cage. Now begin moving your body above your hands in small circles, one to your right, followed by one to your left.
Lean to your back, to your side, to your front, cross-over and continue on your other side. Switch directions after 3-4 Rounds.
Exercise #2: Ball & Band Spiral
Sit on a stability ball, with a resistance band wrapped around your thighs, ending on the outside of your right thigh. Grab the end of the band and wrap it around your left hand. Start by leaning forward (bend your hips), and your extended L arm.
Position 1: Reach diagonally with your left hand to your right side,above your right thigh. Your face is looking towards your left hand.
Position 2: Roll your upper body up. Bring your extended arm above your left thigh, while you are still looking up to your hand.
Position 3: Bring your arm behind your back, twist and look back behind you, towards your extended arm.
Keep each position for 2-3s, before flowing to the next one. Practice this flow for 3-5x, then switch sides.
Exercise #3: Cross-over Bird Dog
Start on an exercise mat on the floor, in a bench position. Lift your L leg off the floor, extend it, and reach with your left foot over your right calf.
Now lift your left hand off the floor, extend your arm and reach with your left hand over your right hand.
Hold this position for 5-10s, try to reach further, and hold it for another 5-10s. Repeat for 3-5x, then switch sides.
Exercise #4: Diagonal Arch
Start in a wide split stand, with your left leg up front, and your right in the rear. Bend your rear leg and lower your hips towards the floor.
Keep your left knee behind your toes, avoid pushing the knee forward. Lift your right arm and bring it overhead. Lift head and look towards your hand. Your left arm stays on the side.
Pull yourself gently back into an arch, hold position for 2-3s, and alternate arms. Repeat 3-5x, then get back up and repeat to other side.
All movements should be done in a gentle way. Your key is to keep your movements flowing, without any jerking or harsh pulling. Each time you get into a position, relax, exhale deeply and try to get into the position a little bit deeper.
Should I Avoid Pain During Stretching?
Yes! A discomfort is ok, pain is not. On a pain scale from 1-10, judge your level of pain up to 3 on the scale. Which equals a gentle pull, not a strong one! Avoid strong pain, only a discomfort is what you are suppose to feel.
Build it into your post-workout routine!