Now that we know the what and why of mobility, let us cover how to attack those dense tissues and restore your ability to be elastic. On a day-to-day basis, muscles should be able to contract and relax, able to become loose at one moment and attain intense rigidity the next. That contraction is the equivalent of the acceleration on your car. Putting the pedal to the metal in most instances is not bad, you should be able to do it. Keep your foot on the accelerator all the time though and disaster is imminent. Constant stress on the body through chronic contraction of muscle tissue exerts an exorbant amount of force in the skeletal structure. The goal if mobilizing your tissues is to take that stress away and restore the ability to relax.
To take you from a proverbial The Thing to Mr. Fantastic, there are quite a few methods to choose from. Only one will be covered in this article. The most popular method is Self-myofascial Release (SMFR). This covers all work done with foam rollers, lacrosse balls, softballs, barbells, and any other tools on hand useful for digging into your skin. There are two methods of SMFR that are more than necessary in maintaining or restoring function. The first is known by many names, but for the sake of simplicity we will call it Global Shear, or Smash and Floss. This term is taken from Dr. Kelly Starrett, a physiotherapist that works with some of the most broken athletes in the world (Crossfitters). Global Shear refers to taking a tool such as the foam roller and literally rolling a part of your body up and down perpendicular to the tool. An example of this would be lying on your back with a foam roller in-between the ground and your back, with the foam roller perpendicular to your body, pushing and pulling with your heels to roll your body up and down. This method serves more as a scan than anything. Along with increasing proprioceptive awareness and increasing circulation to that tissue, Global Shear greatly aids in locating those pesky knots. Most knots don’t reveal themselves until injury occurs or the stress is too great, forcing the act of “throwing in the towel.” Neither of those are desirable for either the coach or client/athlete. Once the knots have been found, then the second method is brought on out.
The second method (again borrowing Dr. Starrett’s terms) is called Contract and Relax. It is exactly what it sounds like. With that knot in your back found, we then proceed to stay on the knot with either the foam roller or a much smaller tool. While resting on the knot contract the surrounding muscles as hard as possible for a few seconds (3-5 to be exact). To keep the inner workings of why this is effective as simple as possible, by applying constant intense pressure then forcing the muscle to contract around that pressure, the scar tissue will break apart allowing those muscle fibers to do what they need to do, stretch and shorten. No one likes scar tissue right?
The point is, through mobility work we allow our muscles to reach normal lengths again and decrease the tension those muscles exert on your ligaments and bones. Almost to a fault our trainers at Accelerated Fitness encourage and teach our clients to mobilize their tissues, avoiding overtraining and/or injury at all costs. Our Glastonbury location already hosts mobility and regeneration sessions on a weekly basis with multiple modalities and methods. We urge you to communicate with your trainer or coach at Accelerated Fitness to discuss what problem areas could be addressed to improve your experience as a member here. Also, for any weekend warriors that prefer to keep regeneration at home feel free to explore Dr. Kelly Starrett’s demos and explanations on soft tissue work on his website www.mobilitywod.com. His videos can also be found on Youtube. Keep up the good work and stay elastic!