By: Natalie Wallace, nutritionist
Whether or not you have been practicing SMR for two days or you are a master who has been practicing daily for five years straight, this article will provide you with useful tips on how to advance. Just like with any habit or hobby, there is always room for improvement. Even when we feel like we are experts, sometimes we overlook the small stuff. And it’s the small stuff that often counts the most. Incorporate these five principles into your SMR and you’ll be sure to reap full health benefits.
Do it, Consistently
Seems pretty obvious, right? But for some reason or another, it doesn’t happen. Say you’re fairly new to SMR and you’ve been practicing a few times a week. After a month or so, you finally experience your first release. The knot melts away like butter as you sink into your SMR tool. This is a wonderful accomplishment, but it doesn’t give you right to an SMR vacation. You need to do your SMR and do it consistently. This ideally means, everyday. Experiencing releases should become a common thing, like something normal and sought after. It doesn’t mean you “won” at SMR and can stop or take a hiatus. Keep climbing the ladder! Make SMR a priority in your life and you will be sure to improve.
Drink More Water
This one is much less obvious and can easily be overlooked. Yet, the more you hydrate your body the more your muscles will be able to respond to your hard work. Thus, avoid dehydration at all costs. When dehydrated, blood flow to the muscles is significantly reduced due to lower blood pressure. Chronic, low level dehydration is common in people who don’t get thirsty often or forget to drink water. If you are one of those people, do whatever it takes to get in a minimum of ten cups per day. Try getting an app on your phone like Water Drink Reminder or Water Time Pro: drink reminder. You can also use your phone calendar to set hourly alarms. Whatever you do, understand the importance of hydration and successful SMR.
When you are going through any type of anxiety or pain, it’s not uncommon to have a shallow breath pattern or hold your breath entirely. While in “fight or flight” mode, energy is sent to non-essential bodily functions like muscle activation, causing a time of high stress to inflict more stress on the body. From an evolutionary perspective, this reaction helps us escape predators. But that is not what we are trying to accomplish here. While doing you SMR, it’s very important to focus on your breath. Inhale and exhale deeply and calmly, sinking into the point of tension on the exhale. Use your breath to relax every fiber of your body, with extra attention on the area you’re getting at with your tool. It will take some awareness to get into a habit of routinely breathing throughout your SMR, but you’ll be able to fully relax and break up that fascia.
Time Over Matter
Kind of like how ‘mind over matter’ refers to the power of your thoughts, ‘time over matter’ refers to the power of patience. When practicing your SMR, keep in mind the effect of time. Be patient with yourself and your body. If you notice a considerable amount of tension, tightness or pain in a certain area, allow yourself adequate time to approach a release. After all, that is the progress marker we are all aiming to hit in this practice, is it not? Ten minutes spent on your calf is better than five, but 20 minutes is superior to ten. Set aside an appropriate amount of time in a comfortable environment as often as you can. Then attack it, headstrong, with patience and diligence.
On the note of diligence, there are certain things you must be cautious about when practicing SMR. Understand when you’re experience odd sensations such as tingling, numbness, or excruciating pain. Acknowledge the difference between these physical sensations and the sensation of pain from tightness and tension. If and when you notice something other than the typical pain from SMR, back away. For example, let’s say you’re working on your left side latissimus dorsi and you notice your arm has gone numb. You need to move off the spot you settled into on your lat immediately. You have the potential to injury yourself, and this is of course, an opposite to the outcome you are aiming for in your practice.
Have fun with your SMR. Get yourself comfortable on your living room floor and turn on some soothing tunes. Hopefully after reading this article, you feel confident and equipped with the knowledge to take your SMR work to the next level. No matter how long you have been practicing, there is always for improvement. Our goal at Fitsom is for you to always be making progress, in all facets of your health and fitness. Incorporate these five, small fundamentals of SMR into your routine and you will be sure to make big progress.