Self-myofascial Release

July 30, 2021

Zach Prochnow

Self-myofascial release (SMR) is a popular form of self-massage used to reduce soft-tissue stiffness, aid post-workout recovery, and maintain normal muscular function.  SMR can be done with a variety of tools such as foam rollers, lacrosse or tennis balls, and handheld rollers.

SMR works by applying pressure to tight or knotted muscles in order to trigger relaxation.  It can be an intense experience, but consistent use will maximize the benefits and decrease the discomfort.

The Benefits of Myofascial Release:

  • Correction of muscle imbalances
  • Muscle relaxation
  • Improved joint range of motion
  • Improved neuromuscular efficiency
  • Reduced soreness and improved tissue recovery
  • Reduction of trigger point sensitivity and pain

SMR is great to use as a warm-up, a post-workout recovery routine, or as part of your daily mobility routine.  Watch the videos below to see how to release various muscles using a tennis ball.

Calf: Place the ball under the mid-calf.  Slowly roll the calf over the ball until you find a tender spot.  Flex your ankle back and forth a few times, or hold pressure on the ball until you feel the trigger point release.  Repeat for other tender areas around the calf.

Hamstrings: Sitting on a box, place the ball under the mid-thigh.  Keep pressure on the ball and extend at the knee until your leg is straight.  Relax your leg and repeat for a few times.  Move the ball to a different area of the hamstrings and repeat.

Glutes/Piriformis: Place the ball in your glute and lay back.  Grab on to your knee and gently pull it to your chest.  Release your knee and repeat.

QL: Lay back with the ball above your hip and to the side of your spine (be sure to not be on bone).  Grab your knee and pull it to your chest.  Relax the tension on your knee and repeat.

TFL: Place the ball below your hip bone (where your pocket would be on pants).  Flex your knee to 90 degrees and slowly rotate your foot back and forth.


Pec Minor: Pin the ball between your chest and a squat rack or door frame.  Raise your arm up as high as your can while keeping pressure on the ball.  Slowly lower your arm and repeat.

Suboccipitals: Lay back with the ball directly under the base of your skull.  You can roll the ball from side to side, nod your head yes, or just relax with pressure on the ball.

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