Releasing muscle aches, pains

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We just had 3,000 gals participate in the Girlfriends Half Marathon this weekend to benefit the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure and the Kearney Breast Center, so we've probably got a number of ladies feeling a little stiff this morning.

I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to discuss the merits of self-myofascial release using foam rollers. A perfect way to help release tight areas for runners and athletes of all kinds! You can purchase a foam roller at www.twistconditioning.com for about $25 -- and every runner/athlete should have one!

General guidelines for self-myofascial release:

1.Perform the techniques as listed below. Once you roll over a tight area, stop rolling and rest on that area for 20-30 seconds (resting will help reduce the muscular tension and pain). Hold to the point of tolerance. It may feel uncomfortable -- like a really deep massage -- but you should not experience any sharp pain.

2.Roll over the entire area for about 1-2 minutes each side and avoid bouncing.

3.Do not hold your breath.

4.Maintain proper posture and contract your abdominals to help stabilize your lower back while rolling.

5.Repeat stretches one to three times each side.

6.These techniques can be done 1-2 times daily.

Here are my favorite myofascial release techniques:

IT band: Lie on your right side supported by your right elbow and maintain your head in neutral and ears aligned with shoulders. Place the roller under your right thigh and place your left leg over and in front of your right leg. Roll just below hip joint down the lateral thigh to the knee.

Piriformis/glutes: Sit on the full roller and cross your right ankle over your left knee. Roll on the right hip area while pulling the right knee toward the opposite shoulder to increase the stretch. To massage the glutes, sit on the roller with your feet and hands in front of the roller and push roller backward with your buttocks.

Quadriceps:Lie on your belly with the foam roller above your knees and elbows bent with forearms touching the floor. Pull your abdominals in and tighten your glutes to help prevent your back from sagging. Roll from the pelvic bone to the knee, emphasizing the front and lateral thigh.

Note: We are offering a free "Foam Rolling to Minimize Aches and Pains" workshop at 7 p.m. Oct. 23 at Northwest Personal Training, 1011 Broadway, Vancouver. Call 360-574-7292 to reserve your space.

Sherri McMillan, M.Sc. is the owner of Northwest Personal Training in downtown Vancouver. She can be reached at www.nwPersonalTraining.com or www.ShapeupwithSherri.com.