Roll Away Trigger Points and Soreness with Self Myofascial Release
As a competitive athlete, every aspect of your performance is influenced by your muscle’s ability to perform at peak levels without restriction. The demands and accumulative stress of training, practice and competition can cause muscle pain and soreness. Along with soreness from micro-trauma to the muscles, trigger points are the most common cause of muscle discomfort. SMR (Self Myofascial Release) is a proactive method to target and eliminate trigger points and muscle tightness to improve mobility and overall muscle performance. At Fitzmaurice Performance our standard tools of choice for “rolling” away trigger points are the Muscletrac, foam rolls and lacrosse balls. We have every athlete roll both before and after every training session. Before the training session, we have our athletes roll to release trigger points and muscle tightness to improve mobility and to prepare for training. After the training session, we have our athletes roll to encourage lactic acid clearance and facilitate faster recovery from training.
Trigger points are hyperirritable areas of contracted muscle fibers that form a palpable nodule or “knot” in the muscle. On a microscopic level, the contracted muscle fiber accumulates into a small and thickened area, causing the rest of the muscle fiber to stretch. Trigger points cause restricted blood flow within the tissue causing an accumulation of waste and reduced levels of nutrients available.
The Causes of Trigger Points
Exertion Overload and Biomechanical Dysfunction: During sports activity, muscles work together synergistically to power movement. Muscle imbalances caused by lack of stability (strength) or mobility (flexibility) can predispose a muscle to trigger points. Trigger point activity resulting from this type of overload is more prominent in athletes that lack proper strength and conditioning.
Overuse/Repetitive Stress: In these cases, the muscle’s functional strength and endurance are exceeded by the demand of the sport. Depending on the sport, it is important for athletes and coaches to monitor the total volume of the causative movement to prevent this form of overload from occurring. In addition, it is important to implement a proactive approach using pre-hab or injury prevention corrective exercise along with a proper strength and conditioning program to prepare for the demands of the sport.
Improper Posture: posture is important for every aspect of proper movement during sports performance. Improper posture can cause tightness and trigger points in the pectorals, hip flexors, neck, upper and lower back. In addition, poor posture can lead to movement dysfunction, which can predispose an athlete to injury during sports participation. For this reason, we emphasis the importance of proper posture with all of the athletes we train.
Nutritional Deficiencies: vitamin and mineral deficiencies can cause an increase in susceptibility of trigger points. Researchers have found that common deficiencies are water soluble vitamins B-1, B-6, B-12, folic acid, vitamin C, and minerals calcium, magnesium, iron and potassium. We recommend all of our athletes take a multi vitamin/mineral supplement along with adhering to a well-balanced diet including plenty of fruits and vegetables.
Improper Hydration: adequate hydration along with balanced electrolytes are critical for optimal muscle function.
Brian Fitzmaurice, CSCS is a strength, speed and conditioning coach, and a personal trainer/performance specialist. Brian is the President and owner of Fitzmaurice Performance, a progressive training center for athletes and fitness enthusiasts in St.Louis, MO that provides personal training, strength and conditioning, performance nutrition and corporate wellness programs. As a highly sought out expert, he draws upon an extensive and diverse experience training and consulting clients ranging from elite athletes to corporate executives as well as the normal, everyday population wanting to optimize their health and performance.