Five Essential At-Home Myofascial Exercises
Author: Lauren Hunsberger | Posted In: Move | August 2020
If you have chronic tight muscles from sitting in a desk chair all day or reoccurring pain due to repetitive exercises, such as cycling or running, it might be time to get creative with wellness tools around the house. For a little extra work on problem areas, we suggest grabbing a tennis ball and getting on the ground for some simple myofascial work.
What is fascia?
Fascia is the structural system made up of delicate but dense strands of fibrous tissue that connect all the muscles, organs, nerves, arteries and bones in your body. It is often compared to yarn that makes up a sweater. Fascia plays a crucial part in supporting the body and often dictates flexibility, mobility and strength. Myofascial release is the practice of targeting this specific tissue with the purpose of relieving any tension or pain.
How does it affect health?
When healthy, fascia moves in a wave-like motion and allows for a wide range of motion and flexibility within your body. However, if the tissue endures trauma, chronic inflammation or, on the opposite side of the spectrum, too much stagnation, it can become tough and less pliable. This can result in tightness, pain, blood flow restriction and limited mobility.
How can you promote healthy fascia?
Yoga, stretching and foam rolling are all great methods for keeping fascia moving well. But, myofascial trigger point therapy with a tennis ball allows you to directly target tension spots, known as trigger points.
What is myofascial trigger point therapy?
A trigger point is a tense, firm spot that occurs in the fascia if it has been neglected or over-used. Trigger points can be identified by tenderness, pain or tightness. Often referred to as knots, relief can be found with manual manipulation on your own or by a therapist.
Five Essential Trigger Point Exercises
Quarantined and sore? Try these five exercises to relive your problem areas on your own.
Runners, hikers and cyclists know how tight calves can get after prolonged activity. For relief, sit on the ground with one leg stretched out in front of you and the other bent at 90 degrees. Place a tennis ball under the calf muscle of the straight leg and rest the hands by the hips. Putting weight into the hands, gently guide the body forward and back, rolling the muscle over the ball. You can also perform small circles. Switch legs and repeat.
Hip flexors are especially tricky because they can get tight from a lot of activity or a lot of sitting. If you are experiencing pain in the front of your hips, lay on the ground facing down and place a tennis ball under the soft tissue below the hip bone with your legs straight out behind you. Support your weight with bent elbows and roll the body back and forth over the ball as well as in small circles.
Back and Shoulders
Trigger point exercises are great for musculature-based back pain because you can be very precise in where you target the therapy. Standing a few inches from a wall, place a tennis ball in the exact place where you feel pain and get close enough to hold it firmly between your body and the wall. When you find a spot that needs release, move in small circles around the ball. This should always be done on muscles and never on bones or your spine.
Whether you sit or stand all day, everyone can benefit from this exercise. Holding on to a wall or chair, place a tennis ball under one foot at the arch. Put just enough tension on the ball to feel some pressure and roll the ball around in circles and back and forth. You should never press hard enough to feel pain. Switch sides and repeat.
Sore glutes are easily eased by sitting on the ground and placing a tennis ball under one of your glute muscles. With weight in the hands, move around until you find the spot that’s causing you pain. Once you have identified the trouble area, put slight pressure on it and roll around in small circles. Again, you should feel pressure but not extreme pain