Fitness Vocab: SMR

Everyone's routine should include this deep massage.

Consider this Furthermore series further education for fitness. Here, we help define the terms that all athletes should know.

DEFINITION: SMR is an acronym for self-myofascial release, a technique that involves applying pressure to the tissues that surround, support, and connect your muscles. It's usually performed with a foam roller or rubber ball, before or after a workout. Research shows that SMR can lead to short-term increases in range of motion and reduce delayed-onset muscle soreness.
To get the most out of an SMR session use a firm roller or ball, which can reach deeper into myofascial layers than soft tools. It’s also smart to vary speed and direction, moving more vigorously to help warm up your muscles pre-workout and more slowly to relax them when you cool down. Use SMR on areas like the quads, hamstrings, lats, calves, and shoulders.
Avoid your spine and joints, which have little soft tissue, and your neck. “The neck is a very sensitive area, with a tremendous amount of neurologic and vascular structures,” says Rob Ziegelbaum, a board-certified physical therapist at Zelik Ziegelbaum Physical Therapy in Port Washington, New York. “The pressure from foam rolling this area can potentially cause more harm than good.”