A client just sent me this video and asked me what I thought. I am supposed to be a mobility guy and I talk about rolling and doing myofascial release and this videos says that’s BS! Or does it?
First, watch the video. It’s an excellent primer on fascia which is the scaffolding of the body. Fascia is the soft tissue that we try to manipulate when we do mobility work. When we say we are stretching muscles what we are really talking about is changing the length and tension of the fascial tissues. The muscle tissue lives inside the fascia and doesn’t really stretch. The knots or adhesions that we poke and rub are in the fascia not the muscle. So fascia is really what most people mean when they say “I need to stretch this muscle” or “I have a knot in this muscle.”
Second, as to the claim that rolling or instrument assisted soft tissue manipulation (‘IASTM’) is not myofascial release. He is being too simplistic or perhaps making a broad claim for a bit of shock value to get people to click. But if you listen to the actual explanations he states that deep pressure and rolling over the skin with a roller or instrument does not cause relative movement between the tissue layers (which I call ‘Shear’ or you can think of as ‘slide and glide’) and is therefore not myofascial release. Yes and no. It is true that a traditional foam roller works like that and does not create shear force. The same is true for some IASTM tools like theracanes or Graston.
One of the reasons I love Yoga Tune Up® therapy balls and recommend all my clients use them instead of foam rollers and lacrosse balls is because they are designed to be grippy and catch the skin and to help create a lot of shear force and create a truer myofascial release than with a foam roller. In the Yoga Tune Up lexicon there a couple of techniques that we use to create more shear force: Pin & Stretch and Pin, Spin & Mobilize.
In the first two videos below, I use two different Yoga Tune Up balls to create a pin & spin shear on my bicep and on my belly respectively. Using the ball to spin and catch all the skin and pull it across the fascial layers underneath just like Dr. Spina demonstrates in his video.
In the third video, I use a pin & stretch technique on my quad by tacking down the skin with the Alpha ball and moving the knee joint creates shear as the muscle lengthens and shortens under the ball and relative to the skin that is pinned down.
So if you really want to create a true myofascial release, you need the right tools and the right techniques. Get some Yoga Tune Up® balls and play along with my videos and give your foam roller away as a gift.