Self-Myofacial Release: the Poor Man's Massage


Posted by Coach Jamie Brown

Happy New Year! Now that we are mostly back to training and building our base for our race season, I wanted to discuss a topic that sometimes gets tossed by the wayside as our workouts get longer and our time gets shorter.

Recovery is critical part of being a successful, HEALTHY, and happy triathlete.
There are many different approaches to recovery including ice, ice baths, acupuncture, massage, ART, static stretching and many more. The one I find most effective because of low cost, time efficiency, and proven results of increasing performance and recovery is SMR (Self-Myofacial Release) or what I like to call the “Poor Man’s Massage”.

Why SMR? As triathletes we are constantly stacking workouts on workouts and consistently lose range of motion in our hip complex. When used in a warm-up routine, SMR has been shown to increase range of motion without decreasing muscle performance.

SMR for Recovery has also been shown to: enhance muscle relaxation (1,2), improve joint range of motion, improve neuromuscular efficiency (1,3,4), reduce soreness and improve tissue recovery (1), Suppress/reduce trigger point sensitivity and pain (2,6,7), and decrease neuromuscular hypertonicity (1)

Tools for SMR: Foam roll, knotted foam roll, trigger point roller, medicine ball, softball, lacrosse ball, roller stick, basketball, PVC pipe (ouch) and many others. Be creative! If you never have actually used this method than you should start with a regular foam roller and progress to a denser surface.

How to foam roll: The first rule is to go slow and take your time moving along the length of muscle being worked. Many times you will find a adhesion/knot and immediately move off of it. The key is holding on that spot for 30-60 seconds which will allow the muscle to relax and discomfort to subside.

Popular Triathlete muscles for SMA and foam rolling:

  • Calves/Soleus
  • Illiotibial (IT) Band
  • Quads
  • Piriformis
  • Hip Flexor
  • Latissimus Dorsi (Lats)
  • Thoracic Spine.

Search YouTube videos for how-tos on rolling particular muscle groups, or try this site:


1. Clark MA, Lucett SL. NASM Essentials of Corrective Exercise Training, Baltimore, MD:Lippincott Williams & Wilkins;2011.
2. Clark MA, Lucett SL. NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training 4th ed. Baltimore, MD:Lippincott Williams & Wilkins;2012.
3. Edgerton VR, Wolf S, Roy RR. Theoretical basis for patterning EMG amplitudes to assess muscle dysfunction. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1996;28(6):744-751.
4. Janda V. Muscle weakness and inhibition in back pain syndromes. In: Grieve GP (ed). Modern Manual Therpay of the Vertebral Column. New York: Churchill Livingstone, 1986.
5. Hanten WP, Olson SL, Butts NL, Nowicki AL. Effectiveness of a home program of ischemic pressure followed by sustained stretch for treatment of myofascial trigger points. Phys Ther 2000;80:997-1003.
6. Hou CR, Tsai LC, Cheng KF, Chung KC, Hong CZ. Immediate effects of various therapeutic modalities on cervical myofascial pain and trigger-point sensitivity. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 2002;83: 1406-14.


Coach Jamie Brown is based in Bend, Oregon and is a USA Triathlon Level I Certified Coach as well as certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine for CPT, PES and CES. Jamie currently races in the Elite ITU Paratriathlon Series and is a two-time National Champion, two-time XTERRA World Championship qualifier and has 10 years of Personal Trainer and Strength and Conditioning Coach experience. Jamie was also a collegiate pitcher for for Orange Coast College and Chapman University. He can be reached at

Share |

Keep up with the Blog with RSS.



Consistency and Variability: Two Key Ingredients for Successful Endurance Training

Posted by Coach David Bauerle on January 14, 2018

Testosterone and endurance exercise: the "exercise-hypogonadal male condition"

Posted by Coach Manuel Delgado Goana on January 14, 2018

Team MPI Celebrates 8th year of Excellence in Endurance Coaching and Coach Mentoring

Posted by admi on January 10, 2018

Training for your First Triathlon

Posted by Coach Liesl Begnaud on January 07, 2018

Mastering the Art of Choosing Our Reason "Why"

Posted by Coach Chris Palmquist on January 07, 2018

Triathlon is for Every BODY

Posted by Coach Adam Sczech on January 01, 2018

Watch Your AIM in 2018

Posted by Coach Mark Turner on January 01, 2018

Surviving the Holidays, One Bite at a Time

Posted by Coach April Corey on December 17, 2017

A “Heavy” Conversation

Posted by Coach Mark Sortino on December 10, 2017

The Revelations, The Risks, and the Rewards - Part 2

Posted by Coach Mandi Kowal on December 10, 2017


Full Blog Archive

Sign up for our Newsletter

Keep up with the latest tips, news, and events from Team MPI.