By Sham Sanghera (Founder of Inspired Wellness)
Everyday you’re bombarded with messages about how to get stronger, lose weight, tone up and just all around be a badass at life. Nothing wrong with that, but there’s one topic that’s not explored nearly enough, and that has helped me tremendously as I recovered from four separate knee surgeries over the years …
MOBILITY AND FLEXIBILITY!
Think of it like this: HOW you perform a movement is just as important as the mechanisms of the movement itself and what it will do for your body.
Example: someone with good flexibility and mobility and with proper squat form will burn significantly more calories, see muscular gains and improvements faster and practically eliminate the onset of injury versus someone who does not take the time to master this practice.
The good news is, it doesn’t take collegiate level study to master basic techniques and recovery practices so you can be a beast in all areas of your life; that’s why people like me exist. I’m passionate about how the body moves and how to help it move optimally, and I have studied body mechanics for years not only in college but as part of my continuing education to this day.
Today I’m going to share my top tips for avoiding injury by being proactive. I am an athlete, so this will speak mainly to athletic performance, but what I’ll be talking about can be used in any setting, including our group fitness classes at the studio (we have a “Boot Camp 101” class for exactly this reason).
First up, SMFR – what is it?
“Self Myofascial Release” is a correctional technique to improve mobility and flexibility. It’s is achieved by breaking up fascial adhesions, “knots”, trigger points and scar tissue. It also alters neuromuscular receptors which releases the tight muscle. The main objective of SMFR is to optimize biomechanics, joint function and movement.
If we dig a little deeper the fascia is an envelope that surrounds your muscle tissue and organs. It has its own contractile and sensory properties that can be found throughout the entire body. If this soft tissue is damaged through injuries, stress or dysfunction it will take a toll on the body in the form of improper movement, pain, inflammation and more.
IMPORTANT to note: SMFR release is not limited to just foam rolling. There are many techniques out there and licensed professionals who can help. Experiment with various techniques to figure out which is best for you.
Why should you do it?
If you have:
- Tight Muscles
- Sore Muscles
- Takes awhile for you to recover
- Cramp up during games or workouts
- Lingering injuries
- A sit-down desk job
… then you need to incorporate SMFR into your routine.
How SMFR Can Help You
The main benefits include:
- Decreased Soreness
- Improved Tissue Recovery
- Improved Range of Motion
- Improved Muscle efficiency
- Decreased Inflammation
- Reduced Pain
We could all use some of that in our lives, right?
When You Should Start This Routine
NOW! In the morning, before activity, post activity, before bed. There really is no wrong time to perform SMFR.
Athletes: Put This Into Practice (Pun Intended)
Below I’m going to share the specific routine I follow prior to a Footy (Australian Football) game.
I always foam roll before warming up. If you have the time, show up early before practice/games and get a good 10-15 minutes in before the team warm up. I will keep a massage stick on the sidelines and when I go out for a breather or during a break I will work on areas where I have a tendency to cramp (calves, quads, hamstrings). I will then perform SMFR again at the end of practice/games. This can be done before or after stretching.
If I have a week where I am feeling pretty beat up then I will SMFR before bed a few days that week and I wake up feeling pretty refreshed.
Footy Nationals: I usually work with a licensed professional a few days before flying out for Nationals and get a deep tissue massage. Since we usually have morning games I will do a quick 10-15min session at the hotel when I first wake up. Once we arrive at the field and get set up I will do another 10-15 mins on any trouble areas I have before the team warm up. I will use the massage stick at halftime on calves, quads and hamstrings.
Immediately after the first game I will stretch with the team and then go do another 10-15mins. Then I will repeat the same set up for game #2. If scheduling and timing allows it I will actually book a massage that night in between Day 1 and 2.
I simply search for a local massage place or sometimes the hotel we stay at has a massage/spa on site. If I can’t book a massage I will SMFR a good 30-45mins before bed. This is not done just to warm up but this helps me to recover so I am ready for the next game, but also less sore the next day.
I tend to do a little more than the average person. If you can do at least half of the information above you will be ahead of most players by far.
I have had my fair share of injuries over the years. I am no longer that 20 year old running circles on the field. But each time I have come back and kept up with those young guns on the field. Participating in sports you are not only battling your competition but with a sport like footy you are battling to keep your body healthy on and off the field. What you do in the off-season is just as important as when it’s go time.
I can say without a shadow of a doubt the only reason I have been able to extend my career for as long as I have was working on my mobility and flexibility and SMFR is one of the best techniques to achieve that.
BONUS: My Favorite Tools
1) Foam Roller
2) PVC Pipe
3) Tennis/Lacrosse ball
4) Golf Ball
5) The Stick
BONUS: Instructional Videos
- SMFR Routine
- I also get a lot of questions on how to improve tight hips. Here is a great video on how to improve Hip Mobility.
Here is a cool little trick to loosen up those tight calves and hamstrings using a lacrosse ball.
Thanks for reading, and here’s to improved mobility, performance and less (if any) injuries!
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About Inspired Wellness
We are a wellness movement aimed at cultivating greatness in all areas of life. We believe that everything is connected and that having the body of your dreams shouldn’t come at the price of your mental and emotional health. You CAN have it all; you just need some determination, grit and the desire to truly change your life!
Catch us locally in sunny Sacramento CA inspiring lives at our wellness center with fitness, nutrition and lifestyle programs, or online doing the same thing with our new online training site + community coming soon!