What is myofascial pain?
Myofascial pain syndrome is pain and inflammation in the body’s soft tissues.
This muscle tightness and pain is caused by overuse and repetitive actions such as running.
The pain can be localised or it can be referred to another part of the body. Referred pain means that tightness in the shoulder (for example) may appear as pain in the hip.
Generally speaking, the muscular pain is steady, aching, and deep. But what can start as a niggle can develop into chronic debilitating pain if left untreated.
Knots or lumps may be visible or felt beneath the skin along the muscle and when pressure is applied to these areas the pain may intensify. These are known as trigger points.
How do I relieve myofascial pain?
Massage therapy using trigger-point release techniques is effective. You can have a qualified masseuse apply massage therapy or you can self-massage at home with myofascial tools like foam rollers and balls; there are benefits to both. Self-massage is far cheaper and you can develop a consistent practice each day. A professional masseuse can ensure the full body is released, including all those hard to get to spots.
Gentle stretching and yin yoga is also helpful.
Why is myofascial release important?
Myofascial release keeps soft tissues healthy and supple and joints mobile. Without this maintenance, the body has difficulty repairing itself after training sessions. Just like a car, if you don’t regularly service it and maintain the parts, it eventually breaks down and ceases to run.
What myofascial equipment should I buy?
- Large roller
A classic large roller if great for targeting large muscle groups such as quads, hamstrings, glutes calves and back.
- Small roller (for feet)
Lightweight, mini and perfect for hitting targeted spots like the soles of your feet. It’s a great tool for treating shin splints and plantar fasciitis. It’s also a great travel companion.
- Firm massage balls
The Blackroll single ball is my absolute favourite for trigger point release for around the glutes and hips. The duo balls are best for release between the shoulder blades and lower back.
A strap assists with stretching and assisting with postures in yin yoga that help release tight fascia. Make sure you use a band made of natural fabrics and not elastic materials as to avoid the skin pinch and pull.
How to use myofascial equipment?
- Take a self-assessment of your body and notice any tight, achy and painful areas.
- Place the roller or ball in position and roll repeatedly over the area for 2-3mins.
- Breathe calmly and regularly while rolling.
- Keep a steady speed and avoid rolling too quickly.
- Avoid rolling directly over bony joints, stick to the main muscle and soft tissues.
- Concentrate the rolling over the painful area, and if you have the time roll and release other key muscle groups that you suspect are being repetitively trained. Remember – the whole body is connected and your pain may be referred.
Where can I buy myofascial equipment?
Most good sports stores stock foam rollers and massage balls. Your local physiotherapist may also have a stock of equipment. You can also try an online store such as Blackroll.