Is stretching and releasing work your jam?
Do you love your foam roller for getting into your tight hips?
I absolutely love using release work with moms to retrain recruitment patterns but I often see people engage with release work in ways that make it a waste of their time.
One piece of that puzzle is in why you are doing it and when, I'll speak to that next week.
The other piece of that puzzle is all about your mindset and technique, so let’s get into it.
I see this get in peoples way, so often, especially with people who are more of a type A personality.
This approach sounds like...
“let’s get this done”
“I’m out to fix this thing”
“I'm gonna crush it into submission”
It is so easy to end up here. I’m not immune to this, I catch myself doing it all the time :)
So how are you thinking about your body when you are foam rolling?
What kind of relationship are you in?
Think about when you are upset with someone in your life. There are two main ways it tends to go.
You respond to them in aggressive, angry and pissed of ways that have the energy of teaching them a lesson.
You go stony, you disconnect, maybe just cut them out or give them the silent treatment.
I see this same kind of dynamic between people and their bodies.
Especially if there is some kind of a breach. If it feels like their body has let them down, and isn’t functioning properly.
It shows up during release work but also in exercise and the rest of life too. Maybe you see where I’m headed here.
When doing release work, often I notice people are either forcing things and/or completely disconnected from what is actually going on in their body. They are just in their head, not paying attention.
Neither place will get you awesome results.
In foam rolling this shows up as rolling fast and hard, in a really painful way. Often it is so painful and the body tenses up, creating armour.
When it is fast, there is no time for the muscle to get the message to melt, so it just gets aggravated.
When there is no listening, it’s hard to find the sweet spot that will let all that tension unravel.
In stretching it shows up as pulling into the stretch and straining on the muscle.
If the body feels threatened or like it may not be able to handle that intensity of stretch it tightens up to protect that muscle so it doesn’t get injured.
I love release work. It has its place, and it can feel amazing and accelerate your strengthening and rebalancing work but when you are hard core with it, I don't think it serves you.
When you do release work and stretch with an aggro approach, like, ‘I'm going to fix this, or smash this to my will’, or when you do release work and stretch without your brain sensing into that place in your body, it does more harm than good.
You end up bruising yourself and the body tightens up, sometimes more than it was to start with.
It's all connected into your nervous system and your nervous system gets freaked out when you release to hard or too fast. The fight flight or freeze response gets triggered and the armour goes on.
How are you supposed to release something that has one bunch of armor on it? In this case, I believe that the old adage, ‘no pain no gain’ is a steaming pile of horse$#!*.
Instead I recommend a gentle mindset.
Sense into the area you are releasing with your brain, breathe and be present with what you are doing.
So whether you're doing a manual release with your hands, a ball, a roller or stretching it’s all the same approach.
Come to the beginning edge of that feeling of tenderness or a stretch, not the middle. Often to find it, you land in the middle but then I recommend you back off to the front edge of the tenderness.
If you need to, make your release surface softer, your touch softer, broader or slower. Please.
While stretching, find the big stretch, then back off a bit and use your breath to initiate the release instead of pulling on the muscle.
When you approach gently with the breath and with your attention, you get to be on the same team as your body.
You get to say, ‘it's okay. You can let go. I've got you. I'm not going to freak you out and we're just going to get in here gently together.’
See how different that is?
That's the approach and mindset that in my experience works the best for release. Approaching from a state of friendship and teamwork.
“We're in this together.” “We can do it. I know you can let go.” “I'm not going to push you too hard. I’m going to listen and breathe”
“I’ve got you, I'm not going to let you feel unsupported or freaked out so that you can unwind and stay that way longer."
You may have noticed that stretching doesn't last long. You stretch and you stretch, and you think, “Oh, that feels so good!”
Then an hour later you're feeling tight again. Sound familiar?
That could be because your body got freaked out. Or because that muscle is tight for a reason. Your body might need it to create stability right now.
And that is why I love pairing release work with strength and activation work.
I'll share about that next week.
I don't want you to waste your time by mashing on your body and having it seize up even more. You don't have time for that, and you won’t get real results that way.
Trust me and approach gently with love, attention and breath.
Your releases are going to be so much more effective if you can remember this.
And stay tuned for next week because I'll share about adding in strength work to make your release stick and encourage your body to engage differently so you don't need to keep releasing.
If this was helpful, leave a comment and let me know.