Self-Myofascial Release (SMFR) for Muscle Recovery

What is self-myofascial release (SMFR)?

Self-myofascial release (SMFR) is a technique used to release muscle tension and promote muscle recovery. It differs from traditional myofascial release as it can be performed by oneself instead of a practitioner. By applying pressure using body weight or tools such as foam rollers, massage rollers, recovery balls, or massage guns, SMFR aims to massage the muscles, decrease micro adhesions, and stretch and release the fascia. This technique can improve flexibility, mobility, and muscle recovery.

Understanding Fascia and "Muscle Knots"

The fascia is the soft tissue component of connective tissue in the muscle, providing support and protection. When the fascia becomes restricted due to factors like overuse, trauma, or inactivity, it can lead to inflammation and potential injury. SMFR techniques work to reverse this process.


While "muscle knots" is not a technically correct term, it is often used to describe various conditions such as:

  • Myofascial trigger points: Localized areas of muscle tension or tightness that can cause pain or discomfort.
  • Muscle adhesions: Bands of fibrous tissue that form between muscle fibers, leading to restricted movement and discomfort.
  • Tension spots: Areas of muscle tightness or tension that can develop due to factors like overuse or poor posture.
  • Trigger sites: Specific points on the muscle where tenderness, tightness, or pain can be felt, often associated with muscle dysfunction.

Benefits and Advantages of SMFR

As personal trainers, we often recommend SMFR due to its numerous benefits and advantages:

  • Releases muscle tightness and "knots".
  • Reduces soreness, pain, and muscle adhesions.
  • Aids in muscle relaxation and recovery.
  • Improves and promotes muscle flexibility as well as range of motion. Also applies to the joints regarding the mobility aspects.
  • Assists in muscle elongation and reducing stiffness.
  • Helps break up adhesions and scar tissue from exercise.
  • Similar benefits to professional massage while staying more affordable.
  • Can be easily incorporated into daily routines.
  • Travel tip: If you have a big foam roller, you can use a tennis ball etc as a replacement.

Using a Foam Roller: Recommended Techniques

When using a foam roller, roll it under each muscle group until you find a tender area. Maintain pressure on that area for 20 to 60 seconds, depending on the individual. If you are a beginner, start with shorter holds of around 20 seconds on each point.
Foam rolling

Our SMFR equipment recommendations

Foam roller : "TriggerPoint" Foam roller
Great as its grid has different shape and deepness area, allowing for different intensity.

Massage roller : Tiger Tail
The above “TriggerPoint” Brand have great foam rollers, but for the massage roller, we have not yet found better than tiger tail.

Massage Gun : Opove Massage gun
Many options there, we will just recommend the brand we used. It seems to be more about portability, design and battery life than which is best.

Recovery ball : Nike recovery ball
You can start with a tennis, baseball or golf ball, quite inexpensive and the different size and softness gives you more options.
If not, be ready, our pick really digs hard.

Warnings and Precautions

  • Stay hydrated by drinking water to keep your tissues hydrated and more pliable during SMFR.
  • Remember that SMFR is not a substitute for proper stretching, warming up, or cooling down. It should be used as a tool to limit soreness and tightness through increased blood flow and flexibility.
  • Avoid using SMFR on torn muscles, joints, and the lower back, as pressure in those areas can cause the spinal muscles to contract and make the process ineffective.

Enjoy your SMFR sessions and have a great day!
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