I remember the day vividly. In fact, it was an entire 2-week trip that had such an influential impact not only on my personal life but my professional life. I had taken time away to attend a Myofascial Release seminar in Tucson, Arizona then travelled onwards to Sedona for a week’s intensive MFR treatment. I was lucky enough to be one of only 2 perhaps 3 patients attending the treatment centre as it was the week before Christmas in 2003. This meant that on many of my treatment sessions I was treated by 2 or more incredibly skilled therapists.
I have travelled from Scotland to the US on my own. Getting on a plane to another country or staying in a hotel on my own didn’t really phase me but Sedona can be really cold in the winter, surprisingly cold! I remember on numerous occasions wearing socks on my hands to go out walking to the store to get food to take back to my apartment. What did phase me was having nothing to do as it was so cold and as it wasn’t tourist season, it was really quiet with most shops closing at 6-7pm. As a result, I got really bored.
The therapists at the treatment centre suggested that I listen to some tapes (yes tapes) of Caroline Myss, Anatomy of the Spirit and while I was listening, I could do some self-myofascial release using one of their therapy balls and a foam roll. The therapy balls weren’t new to me, but I had never heard of a foam roll. Luckily, one of the therapists took time to show me some very simple SMFR using both tools; this was my first step into self-myofascial release. I loved how I could feel changes happening using the ball and foam roll as if I was enhancing and refining the hands-on and exercise care I was being given. They gave me the opportunity to make my treatments more meaningful building my active participation with an increased awareness of my own body. These tools also helped me to craft my own therapy hands-on and hands-off skills
I decided to bring a foam roll back to the UK as I had never seen them here. The cabin crew looked slightly bemused as I brought one onto the plane home. But I am so glad I did as it was almost 5 years before they became popular here. I used to buy them in boxes of 10, teaching my clients how to use offering them on a rental or purchase option basis.
My favourite foam roll SMFR technique is to lie on the foam roll with my head at one end and my sacrum at the other end, so my spine is lying along the foam roll. I keep my knees bent and feet on the floor with a wide stance and just let my arms lie out at my sides, palms facing upwards. I just lie there and concentrate letting my body feel softer and softer as if it could melt over the foam roll. I slow and deepen my breathing and maintain focus on, and in, my body. Eventually, you feel a sensation across your chest underneath your collar bones. It feels like a stretching sensation and feels so satisfying that you just want to stay there and let it happen more and more. But I slowly move my arms a little closer towards my head in abduction and again concentrate on letting my body feel like it is getting softer and softer. Sometimes this process can take 10 minutes or so. I often pull a blanket or duvet over the top of me and before you know it, I’ve fallen asleep.
Over the years I’ve added to this technique encouraging balance and proprioception by slowly lifting one foot of the floor for about 5-10 seconds aiming to control my balance then repeat with the opposite foot. I have also gently pushed my arms back into the floor for about 5-10 seconds, relaxed and repeated the process 3-4 times. This is similar to a muscle energy technique.
In the video above I have also added an SMFR technique using a therapy ball. While a foam roll is challenging to take away on holiday with you, a therapy ball is easy to carry. This technique feels really good for your hips and pelvis. Our therapy balls are about 10-12 cm diameter. If you don't have a ball this size, a tennis ball will do although not ideal, but it will get your started. Have a watch at the video above as it not only teaches you some self-care but let's you see what kind of techniques are in SMFR and how we teach them.
As a result of constructing and devising self-care techniques over the past 20 years, I have built up a huge repertoire, much of which I am sharing in our Self-Myofascial Release online courses and in-person workshops.
If you haven’t yet looked at what these courses offer, you can check them out here. We would love to have you join us!!
Online and in-person options available.
Go here for all the SMFR info : SELF-MYOFASCIAL RELEASE