SMR for the Hamstrings - Showing the Hamstrings Some Love

Self Myofascial Release for the Hamstrings

Self Myofascial Release (SMR) sounds like it would be a hard modality to learn, and it can be, but the basics can be easy to learn and implement. I am going to teach you what you need to know to get started.

Press play to see a demonstration!

Most of you have seen people rolling around on a foam roller in the gym like a bunch of weirdos. The foam roller has become a staple in the gym, and for a good reason, but sometimes the foam roller just can't reach the places we need it.

Enter the lacrosse ball. 

In today's example, we are focusing on the hamstrings. And the lacrosse ball is a great tool to get way up in those hamstrings, thanks to the greater density and less surface area compared to the foam roller. Because most people than not have tight or over-active hamstrings, getting in some SMR before you train is a good idea.

*Science Dork Alert* 

Self myofascial release is actually pretty simple in some regards and the science behind it is interesting enough to go through with you guys. After all, you should know what you are doing in the gym, or at least know why you are doing it. The basics behind SMR is all about autogenic inhibition. Most of us have never heard of the golgi tendon organ (GTO) before, and that's okay, but because of these little dudes we are able to get a muscle to relax. The GTO is a mechanoreceptor that's located between the tendon and the muscle, called the muscle-tendon junction, and it relays information to our brain about whether or not a muscle and/or tendon has a lot of tension within it. Autogenic inhibition comes in to the picture because when the GTO signals that there is too much tension in the muscle-tendon junction, ie. a high risk for injury from tight hamstrings, the GTO will tell the muscle spindles to relax, bro. This is called reflex relaxation or autogenic inhibition. Sans this process, there will be decreased range of motion and we won't be allowed to get into the stretch we need to be great. And ladies and gentlemen, we are great!

Why do SMR in general?

  • Improve range of motion and mobility (duh)
  • Reduce scar tissue formations and adhesions 
  • Relax overactive muscles 
  • Increase the quality of (exercise) movements

Why not do SMR?

  • Injured areas
  • Chronic pain syndromes ie. fibromyalgia 
  • Circulatory problems

the steps to making your hamstrings hurt so good (disclaimer: it will only "hurt" for a short bit, after that you will have less pain than you started with :)

  1. Grab a lacrosse ball and a seat that is tall enough that your foot is off of the floor.
  2. Place the ball under the hamstrings and flex at the knee so that your knee is at a 90 degree angle.
  3. Supply pressure into the ball.
  4. Extend at the knee by straightening your leg out.
  5. Perform these movements (as seen in the video) a couple of times per area and then take the ball and reposition it in a different area on the muscle.
  6. Spend about three minutes on each leg
  7. Be awesome with more range of motion and crush your goals.

Go ahead and give this a try. If you are one of many people with tight hamstrings, this may be just what you need. And for something cool to try; before you start your SMR you should stand up straight and then touch your toes. See where you are at in terms of hamstring flexibility. This way we can test and retest after you finish SMR. You'll notice a huge increase in your range of motion.