The nape, shoulders, lower back, hip(s), knees, ankles, and heels. What do they have in common? They are the places in our body that most often have pain or discomfort. A common source of pain can be muscle tension caused by overuse or, in some cases, underuse. Things like driving, working on a computer, standing in line, sleeping on your side, or any number of everyday activities can create the conditions for your muscles to tighten. Affected areas typically develop “knots” that can alter the optimal length of the muscles and disrupt the way you move normally. When this happens, everyday movements can become laborious and painful. The “knots” must be released so that the muscles can relax and return to their normal working length.

A possible answer to your prayers could be a simple foam roller. This unassuming device is used to perform a flexibility technique called automyofascial release or foam rolling. Simply put, you use it to relax tense muscles and
feeling better.

Self myofascial release works by applying pressure to the muscles with a foam roller. A mechanism in your muscles detects the pressure. Your body then sends a signal to the knotted muscle telling it to relax. Some muscles will relax right away, while others will need repeated treatment. Please note that the tenderness experienced when putting pressure on the knotted muscles can be mild to severe. Don’t let this get in the way of potentially freeing yourself from the pain of “learning to live with it.” If you are persistent and constant, you will begin to see results.

Another thing to consider once you’ve relaxed your knotted muscles is the things you do throughout the day that might have caused your pain in the first place. Unless you change those movement patterns, muscle pain will continue to plague you. The easiest thing you can do is give yourself frequent breaks from things like working on a computer, carrying a bag/backpack in a certain way, or doing a particular exercise for weeks or months.

The instructions for the foam roller are as follows:

• Roll slowly (1 inch per second) over the muscles.
• Don’t roll on joints.
• If you find a tender area or “knot,” hold for 20-30 seconds or until sensitivity decreases by 50%, then continue.
• Take deep breaths while holding a “knot” and relax.
• If the “knot” is too intense, continue and come back to it later.
• Self myofascial release can be performed daily.

The use of this technique is not recommended in diabetics who have lost the protective sensation in the lower limbs. It is also not suggested for anyone during pregnancy or who has hypertension, coronary heart disease, intermittent claudication/peripheral arterial disease, and osteoporosis.

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