April Focus: Strength, Maintenance and Self-Myofascial Release

20 days of eccentric lifting has passed and we will now progress into tightening the muscular fascia back to an inelastic responsive state. The last four weeks may have seemed long, but it was technically only 20 days. #Perspective. Certain athletic programs call for 4-6 months of eccentric work. Eccentric work was again, to undo all the tightening of the musculature that max month had done. It also contrasts all the “heavy” load capacity with much more manageable percentage-based loads, so that we can emphasize functional and optimal range of motion (ROM). We highly encourage you when/if you feel super tight and achy at any point in your exercise journey, to incorporate 1-2 weeks of eccentric loading.

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The longer you implement an eccentric cycle, the wider of a foundation you will establish in order to build tolerable and attainable maxes. Think of eccentric lifting like building the foundation of a building. The larger and better the foundation, the higher and safer you can build up (injury prevention). There is no such thing as too much eccentric lifting, but there is absolutely a such thing as too much maximal loading, hence why we limit max month to 20 days. 

Now that we have emphasized eccentric lifting, operative ROM and the muscles have established a replenished foundation to start maximal loading again. Since we will start to process muscle contraction and tightening, and there will not be complementary eccentric loading, you may be wondering how we should we maintain muscular fascia health. Join us at our second SMR Workshop (self-myofascial release, lower extremity) on Saturday 4/21 at 10am (NO YOGA) and we will compliment our last SMR (upper extremity) and teach you all exactly how to implement such maintenance. 

Self-myofascial release (SMR) is a technique that allows the individual to release tension in their own muscles and surrounding connective tissues. It is an important part of the exercise recovery process because the hardening of myofascial tissues often occurs following physical stress (such as exercise). In this process, the ground matrix of the connective tissue, which is the liquid gel inside the muscle, loses its viscosity and binds to the surrounding tissue, causing fibrous adhesions to form (also known as a “knot”). SMR allows athletes to perform daily maintenance on their muscles by releasing fibrous adhesions and restoring hydration to the tissue. Some of the most popular tools for self-myofascial release include the lacrosse ball and foam roller. 

One of the most commonly asked questions surrounding SMR is whether it should be performed before or after exercise. The answer is that both are beneficial for different reasons. When SMR is performed before training, range of motion increases without compromising performance. Sullivan et al. found that foam rolling the hamstrings before a sit-and-reach test increased range of motion by 4.3% while muscle activation remained the same (2013). When foam rolling is performed after training, delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) has been shown to decrease. A group of athletes that foam rolled after an intense bout of strength training reported significantly decreased perceived muscle soreness for 24, 48 and 72 hours afterwards in comparison to athletes that did not use a foam roller  (Macdonald, Button, Drinkwater &Behm, 2014). By practicing SMR in an informed way, you can get the most benefits from foam rolling before and/or after training.

What can you expect? If you increase your ROM, you will, again according to our force production equation, increase your power output. As discussed in Humble Beginnings, increases the foundation for you to build your peaks (maxes). You will also, greatly decrease risk of injury and you will probably just feel better in your day to day living. 

We at Humble Beast CrossFit strive to provide you with physiological knowledge and relative application. As you age, get stronger, and become more athletically developed, your body will require more patience, discipline, and education in relation to physiological applications and wellness. Please ask questions on how these applications can work for you!