PersonalFit – Tokyo personal training

What is SMFR – Self myofascial release with foam roll

myofascial release equipment


Self-myofascial release (SMFR) is a technique principally used to remove knots from muscles using foam rolling, with foam rollers, exercise balls or other cylindrical object, to apply pressure with one’s body weight to massage muscle and decrease micro adhesion while attaining a deep stretch and releasing the fascia.


fascia detail for personal training


Fascia is the soft tissue portion of the connective tissue in the muscle that provides support and protection, and it can become restricted due to overuse, trauma, and inactivity, leading to inflammation and potential injury. SMFR techniques work to reverse this process.


Muscle knots

Knots are also called “myofascial trigger points”
They are the results of micro adhesions/micro tears that form during a workout and stimulate the release of healing proteins. Those healing proteins lead to an increase in muscle density and metabolism, and unfortunately their release can lead to development of knots within the muscle.


Foam roller

So let’s start with a list of benefits and biggest advantages that makes us personal trainers recommend SMFR by foam rolling often and correctly:

  • Improved circulation
  • Increased blood flow
  • Releases muscle tightness
  • Breaks down knots in your muscles
  • Reduces soreness pain
  • Increase recovery rate
  • Great tool for lengthening and elongating muscles
  • Greater benefit for runners who often have tight and fatigued muscle
  • Close to a massage therapist massage, but at low cost
  • Breaks up adhesions and scar tissue that form over time due to exercise
  • Helps your muscles relax by activating the sensory receptors connecting your muscle fibers to your tendons
  • The foam roller being unstable, it works your core muscles and helps improve balance
  • Only need a few minute (daily)
  • Can be used both prior to a workout and as part of the recovery process.

An other interesting benefit to know is that muscle grow/extend feaster than fascia, so realising this might help people who want to gain mass to extend the fascia faster allowing the muscle being contained in it to also grow faster as being less compressed in his fascia.

So how do we do this?

First we need to get our hands on foam roll, sometimes called yoga pole.
There is many types of roller, and the denser the roller or the deeper the ridges on the roller, the more intense the stretch will be.
One tip: if you only have a big foam roll and are going on a trip, you can use a tennis ball for example as a replacement.


fascia stretching with just a tennis ball


This link might help you choose your foam roller

Here is the one I use

foam roll used for training

The process is simple: for instance, in the foam roller technique, the roller is rolled under each muscle group until a tender area is found, and then pressure is maintained on that area for 20 to 40 seconds.

Main areas on which to perform SMFR foam rolling:

-Calf Muscle

-Hip and leg muscles(tensor fascia latae…)

-Glute muscles

-Back muscles(upper, back not lower back)

Self Massage with a foam roll



  • Drink water to keep your tissues hydrated and more pliable during rolling
  • This is not a replacement for proper stretching, warming up or cooling down, but can/should be used as a tool to limit soreness and tightness through increased blood flow and flexibility
  • The foam roller can be used on any part of the body, but avoid torn muscles and lower back (aim at the glutes near the lower back but don t go on it, your spine would freak out and all the spinal muscles would contract to protect it
  • Spend maximum 30-40 seconds on each tender spot then move on (I’d personally recommend 20 seconds, but to use the foam roller on a regular basis)
  • Avoid articulations


Have an awesome day in Tokyo

PersonalFit – Personal Trainer and fitness instructor in Tokyo

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