Best Myofascial Release Tools of 2022
There are 5 essential Myofascial Release self-care items for gently releasing fascia. These items are on the softer side, and for a good reason. When trying to release fascia, a gentle approach is better because the fascia tenses up when aggressive tools are used. Forceful tools that are marketed for deep tissue release are meant for instant gratification of muscle tension, more so than for the release of fascia. It's easy to use the deep release tools for too long and end up even more sore in the long run. This article describes the 5 most popular Myofascial Release tools that are specific for targeting fascial restrictions.
What are the 5 most important Myofascial Release items?
The Sportime Super-Safe Softball is a must have because it’s the most versatile item for gently releasing fascia in multiple areas of the body. It’s soft, so you can use it for extended periods of time without bruising the muscles. You can even sleep on it. Take one with you in the car, especially on long road trips. I recommend purchasing a couple. They are especially good for releasing tight hip flexors (psoas). In order to soften the fascia around the hip flexors, lay on your stomach for a minimum of 5-10 minutes with one ball beneath each hip.
The CranioCradle is the best tool for releasing neck tension. Lie with your head on the cradle, and let the two high points softly sink into the neck muscles (occipitals) which are located at the base of the skull. The CranioCradle can also be placed under the triangle bone just below the lower back (sacrum). Release the sacrum by letting your body weight distract the sacrum away from the lower part of the spine. You can use the CranioCradle for extended periods of time and not worry about feeling sore afterwards because it releases the fascia gently.
A Silicone cupping set is great for gently releasing trigger points and fascia. They work by pulling the skin and the most superficial layer of fascia into the cup. Place them on the areas you feel tension for as long as needed. Most of the areas you’ll be able to cup will be where you can reach, like the arms, shoulders, legs, neck and certain parts of your back. You’ll need assistance to cup some areas of your back. They are portable and easy to travel with. You can get by with just one on a trip, which won’t take up too much space in your bag.
A yoga block can be used as a prop with the 4” Sportime Super-Safe Softballs, and the corners of a softer yoga block are safe to hook into the areas of the body where the fascia is tight. There are no rules for how to position the yoga block and balls. I recommend placing them in arrangements that feel good to you. Jill Miller's book The Roll Model demonstrates many exercise and release techniques that you can do at home with a yoga block and ball. She markets her own style of ball that is softer than a lacrosse ball, but it’s still pretty firm. The firmer balls are more for massaging the muscles, in my opinion. There's a difference between releasing the fascia and working over the muscles–fascia and muscles are two separate systems. I prefer using the Sportime Softballs in combination with the Gaiam Yoga Block for a gentler release of the fascia.
A foam roller can be used with an aggressive or gentle approach. In order to release the fascia, it's recommend to use a gentle approach. A good rolling technique for the upper back and shoulders is to lie on the ground with the foam roller under your mid back, keeping your knees bent. Then use your legs to move your body over the foam roller between your mid back and shoulders about 15-20 times. This helps the nerves around the spine relax, which helps your body release more when progressing to other stretch techniques. A great stretch technique for opening up the chest (pecs): lie with the foam roller placed length wise under your spine, letting your arms out to your sides. Hold this position for a few minutes while your shoulders roll open from your chest. This promotes the fascia and pec muscles to open up naturally.
How often should I practice Myofascial Release self-care?
Myofascial Release therapists recommend using the self-care tools often, and for extended periods of time. Rather than try and force your muscles out of contraction, it's best to release the fascia slowly. Feel free to do something else while waiting for the fascia to release, like watching T.V., reading, working on the computer, etc. Using the tools while sleeping is okay too, except for the foam roller; don’t fall asleep with the foam roller under your spine. You can sleep with the foam roller under your knees or legs.
The 5 essential Myofascial Release items are cheap in price, but don't let that fool you into thinking they're second-rate to other products. These are the core items for releasing fascial tension. If you invest in all 5 items, you'll have everything you need for Myofascial Release self-care.