Watertown Personal Training and Weight Loss Center


Personal Training in Watertown - Page Fitness

Hello everyone,

I want to take a minute to discuss the benefits of foam rolling. Also known as self-myofascial release (SMR) or ischemic compression therapy, it is a means to manipulate tight muscles and get them to relax. This technique can be done before or after exercise.  I will refer to it as SMR for the rest of this post.


 Certain situations prohibit SMR. The presence of any malignancy or tumor growth, Osteoporosis, Osteomyelitis, history of congestive heart failure, or acute rheumatoid arthritis is unsuitable for SMR. Ask a fitness professional if you are unsure if your condition prohibits SMR. Do not perform SMR, ischemic compression, soft tissue release or active release if prohibited by your medical provider.

Perform SMR only on muscles identified as overactive as the result of a fitness assessment. The proper application of SMR assists in correcting joint movement dysfunction created by injury, poor posture, and repetitive motion5.


Overactive muscles signify areas where tiny cramps (also called knots, or trigger points) have altered the ability of the muscle fibers to contract properly. Over time, these knots can permanently alter intramuscular coordination by forming collagen bonds across the direction of muscle fiber contraction. Known as Davis’s law, the knots will change movement properties of joints. You can observe compensations in dynamic movement during some exercise4. For example, inward movement of the knees during the “up” phase when performing a squatting technique. The proper muscular-joint function should allow the quadriceps and gluteal group to do most of the lifting. However, the dysfunction has caused the muscles in the inner thigh and outer lower leg to take over for the bigger muscle. Movement compensation could be why a simple movement results in long-term pain (reaching for a can of beans and throwing out your back).


SMR impacts multiple systems of the body to create muscle relaxation. The application of varying degrees of pressure addresses specialized organelles called mechanoreceptors. The Golgi tendon organ (GTO) and muscle spindles (MS) are the primary targets of SMR3,5. Although, SMR brings about changes in the central nervous system as a whole. Reducing the impact of knots is achieved by continuous application of high pressure for up to 30 seconds or lighter pressure applied for up to 90 seconds. Judge intensity by your pain tolerance level2.You can manipulate pressure by using different types of release tools. Harder materials will increase tissue pressure as softer materials reduce pressure. There are devices like rumble rollers that provide intense localized pressure for deep knots. Choose the one that fits your fitness needs and preference best. Soft tissue manipulation initiates changes in tissue response. SMR stimulates the central nervous system (skeletal muscles) and the autonomic nervous system (hypothalamus, general muscle tone) to relax the entire body via fascia5. SMR after intense exercise can proliferate a return to normal heart rate and diastolic blood pressure 1.

I recommend performing SMR daily. As a preventative measure, SMR should be used as part of a thorough warm up plan. I recommend SMR after tissues are warm-up and before vigorous exercise. Some research suggests that SMR can be performed before a warm-up AND before vigorous exercise. It is best to try both and make adjustments to which works best for you. 

That is all for now. I’ll touch back on foam rolling and flexibility in later posts.

Stay healthy everyone,



  1. Arroyo-Morales,, M., Olea, N., Martinez, M., Moreno-Lorenzo, C., Daz-Rodrguez, L., & Hidalgo-Lozano,, A. (2008, March). Effects of Myofascial Release After High-Intensity Exercise: A Randomized Clinical Trial. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Theraputics, 31(3), 169-254. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jmpt.2008.02.009
  2.        Hou, C. -R., Tsai, L. -C., Cheng, K. -F., Chung, K. -C., & Hong, C. -Z. (2002, October). Immediate Effects of Various Physical Therapeutic Modalitieson Cervical Myofascial Pain and Trigger-Point Sensitivity. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitaiton, 83, 1406-1414.
  3.        Jami, L. (1992, July 1). Golgi tendon organs in mammalian skeletal muscle: functional properties and central actions. American Physiological Society, 72, 623-666.
  4.        NASM. (2012). NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training (Fourth ed.). (M. A. Clark, S. C. Lucett, & B. G. Sutton, Eds.) Baltimore, Maryland, United States of America: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
  5.        NASM. (2014). NASM Essentials of Corrective Exercise Training. Burlinton, Massachutes: Jones & Bartlett.

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