Newsflash: Sitting is bad for you. Sure, we know that staring at our computer screens for eight hours a day doesn’t promote optimal health, but what’s the solution?
Fitness and wellness guru Erin Paruszewski, founder of Alkalign Studios, is helping us find our way and introducing us to an area of fitness most of us are just now discovering. According to Erin, one easy way to counteract all that time we spend on our bums is through myofascial release. Myo-what? Here’s Erin with all the deets on this powerful practice…
Did you know mobility is just as important to your health as cardiovascular and muscular strength?
As a result of our hectic, tech-centric lives, we spend an overwhelming amount of time in sedentary positions and in poor posture. This creates stiffness and imbalances in our body. Muscle adhesions or “knots” develop, reducing the elasticity of muscles and range of motion in our joints. Ultimately this impacts the comfort and function of our bodies.
The good news is that five to ten minutes a day of myofascial release (MR) can make a big difference. What is myofascial release? Well, fascia is a three dimensional network of connective tissue and fluid that runs throughout the body as one continuous structure. It’s the connective tissue of structure, or the glue that holds everything in place. MR uses tools like Yoga Tune-Up massage therapy balls to locate the tightness in your tissues and work through them via rolling, sustained pressure and other release techniques. All in the name of restored muscle function, improved joint mobility, decreased musculoskeletal pain, reduced muscle imbalances and less stress. Yes, please!
Myofascial Release 101:
Your feet are your foundation and the base of your kinetic chain. Take care of your feet and they will take care of you. This is one of the easiest MR techniques to do. You can roll while on a conference call or brushing your teeth.
A lot happens between your fingertips and your shoulders. Everything in our body is interconnected. Whether you have carpal tunnel, shoulder issues or just spend a lot of time typing, rolling your forearms can benefit your whole upper body. Use the toted balls on top of your desk or kitchen counter.
Fix Text Neck:
We spend so much time looking down at our phones and tablets. Research indicates that every degree our neck is out of alignment doubles the load on those surrounding muscles resulting in stiff necks and overworked trapezius and rhomboid muscles. Align the cervical spine (think ears over shoulders and chin parallel to the floor) and release tension in the neck by placing the balls on either side of your upper trapezius and lifting your pelvis off the floor.
Balance Your Body:
Because the majority of our lives are in front of us (computers, steering wheels, etc.), we tend to overuse the muscles in the front body and underuse those we can’t see in the back body, causing tightness in the chest and slumping shoulders. Alleviate tightness in the chest by loosening the tissues across the pectoral muscles. Place the ball underneath your collar bone, lean against a wall, and roll side to side.
Breathing techniques are therapeutic. Abdominal or belly breath is also down-regulating, meaning it decreases heart rate and blood pressure, reduces stress and activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which boosts immunity. Be mindful of your breath while practicing MR. It’s doesn’t have to hurt to work. You should be able to take a full abdominal breath. If you can’t, you’re working too deep.
Lie down and place the toted balls (preferably on a yoga block) behind your head at the base of your neck and breathe. Sustained compression on the base of your skull helps relieve a plethora of issues including migraines. It’s also a great down-regulating position to spend a few minutes in before bedtime.
Staying hydrated allows the heart to pump blood more easily through vessels and muscles. It keeps blood moving through the muscles to help rehydrate the fascia.
Once you get comfortable, you’ll realize how good rolling feels. Rolling is self-massage and massage is always a good thing! You should feel sensations of warmth and release. If you feel tingling or pain, stop and reposition. This work is intuitive. Listen to your body and adjust accordingly.
After a MR session, try some muscle cream or gel on the areas that you worked. Tata Harper Soothing Muscle Gel uses arnica extract, citrus, lemon peel, blue cypress, silver fir, ginger and turmeric essential oils to provide an immediate cooling sensation and reduce aches and pains. It feels amazing on the neck, shoulders and back after a good rolling session.
Preserve your body by adopting healthy habits. Just a few minutes of myofascial release each day can make a big difference. Something is better than nothing. MR is a practice and part of a balanced lifestyle.