In the years that I've been helping clients overcome chronic muscle and joint pain relief, the scientific study of SMR (self-myofascial release) has sky rocketed. Since I first had the opportunity to go into the dissection lab while studying human anatomy, the known understanding of what fascia is and does has literally changed 180 degrees.
As my practice here evolved, I've always been one to welcome new research, thoughts and applications. I've always believed that chronic muscle and joint pain relief solutions is not a "one size fits all" approach. As I like to say, "YOU are MORE than just a BODY". Pain is modulated by many factors from across somatic, psychological and social domains (see Reconceptualizing Pain According to Modern Pain Science).
We are a combination of physical, emotional and social input, and solving the chronic pain equation requires patience, attentive listening, excellent postural analysis and human biomechanics skills. [For one of the BEST articles on this topic.
That said, one of the most wonderful pain solution systems I've had the opportunity to introduce my clients to is the art of Self-Myofascial Release. Better known as SMR, this self-care regimen truly assists and aids in the restorative and healing process. Combined with Foundation Training, and/or Corrective Posture Alignment Exercise, it has provided the fastest way out of chronic pain for many of my clients.
Recently I read an excellent research synopsis posted on WebExercises Academy SportsMed Minute, a trusted corrective exercise newsletter I subscribe to. It read:
Short-term effects of self-massage combined with home exercise on pain, daily activity, and autonomic function in patients with myofascial pain dysfunction syndrome.
by Chan, Wang, Chang, Chen, Chu, Lin, and Chang, in Journal of Physical Therapy Science (2015).
To explore retrospectively the effects of a 2-week program of self-massage and home exercise for patients with myofascial pain syndrome.
What did the researchers do?
The 63 patients had been previously diagnosed as having myofascial pain syndrome for 6 – 18 months. The intervention group received a self-massage and home exercise program, 3 sessions per week over a 2-week period. The self-massage involved rolling a baseball on the specific neck and upper back muscles that had trigger points. The home exercise program involved stretching of the neck and upper back muscles.
Pain and pressure pain threshold
The researchers found that only the self-massage group reduced pain significantly.
Disability and function
The researchers found that only the intervention group significantly improved the neck disability index.
What did the researchers conclude?
The researchers concluded that self-massage and home exercise is more effective than solely using other conventional physical modalities for pain and pressure pain threshold.
So what's the take away?
If you are a chronic muscle and joint pain sufferer, it's well worth looking into learning self-myofascial release, along with exploring more than just a physical cause of symptoms. Your mind, social situation and other factors are other important components in putting together a successful program.
I always advise that SMR is done in conjunction with Foundation Training, or a corrective exercise program like The BioMechanics Method, posture alignment therapy, Pilates and/or Yoga. And due to the fact that much can get "lost in translation" (meaning what you are actually doing doesn't always translate to what you are supposed to be doing), it is well worth the investment in your health to learn how to do it properly (usually only a couple of classes). Hire a trained professional, learn the what and how of SMR, or find a class that you can attend on a weekly basis to maintain accountability.
You're body WILL thank you!
Questions? Please reach out or leave a comment below. And if you found this article helpful, please share!
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Head Photo Credit: Ruby and Roxy Photography
Author: Deb Preachuk is a Corrective Exercise Specialist and the founder/owner of Pain Free Posture MN. Follow Deb on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, or subscribe to her YouTube, Pinterest or Instagram pages.
With over 25 years in the health and wellness field, Deb helps real people transform real-world chronic pain challenges into achievable results. Deb infuses her teaching with an honest, open and down-to-earth mix of chronic pain relief therapeutic modalities training techniques to make the concepts of pain relief and body/mind transformation accessible and achievable!