Benefits of Active Release Techniques / Soft Tissue Work

Written by | Posted under Injury Care | 8 years ago

Foam RollingStretching helps prevent injuries by increasing the length of your muscles, but it does not improve the quality of your muscles. If you exercise regularly, you are bound to develop trigger points, adhesion, scar tissue, and other negative things in your muscles. When ignored, these things build up over time and can cause pain. The only way to get rid of these is through active release techniques (ART), also known as myofascial release, or soft tissue work. Regular trips to an active release therapist is too expensive for me, so I opt to do soft-tissue work.

Benefits of Active Release Techniques

  • Increased Flexibility. Muscles are easy to stretch, fascias are not. Sometimes your flexibility is limited by tight fascia tissues and soft tissue work can help loosen these tissues.
  • Increased Muscle Quality. Higher quality muscles perform better and endure longer with less pain.
  • Less Injuries. Increased muscle quality and flexibility naturally prevent injuries from physical activities.
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What You Need

  • Foam roller. I previously had a cheap foam roller (~$20) that is entirely made out of foam. It worked great until it got too soft after 4 months of daily usage. I recommend getting a foam roller with a PVC pipe inside, such as the Foam Roller Plus, The Grid Foam Roller, or a high density foam roller that is extra firm. That way your roller will last you a lot longer and not crap out quickly like mine. Also, if
  • Tennis ball/Lacrosse ball. Cheap yet effective. These are used for smaller muscle areas (e.g. glutes) or muscle areas that need more pressure. You can even substitute it with baseballs if you want.
  • TheraCane. Used for increased precision. This is for when you have really specific pressure points and you need lots of pressure on that point to release. It is especially useful for reaching places that are hard to get to (like your upper-back).

How to Perform Active Release Techniques on Yourself

Here are a couple free PDF guides on how to perform soft tissue workouts: first PDF, second PDF. There are also a few books out there on Amazon (I recommend The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook), but I personally just follow the following routine by Eric Cressey.

Conclusion

I do about 10 minutes of soft tissue work and 10 minutes of stretching before I exercise. That is my daily exercise routine. The reason why I spend so much time taking care of my muscles is because I do not want to get injured. Injuries can take you out of commission for weeks, months, or even years. Soft tissue work can help prevent it so it seems like a no brainer to me! Start rollin’ now!

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