One of the most common concerns I receive in regards to my Rolfing Structural Integration hands-on work is that it is painful. Also, oftentimes when people are doing myofascial self-release either using a foam roller or a lacrosse ball, a common mindset is ‘the more intense it is, the more effective it must be.’
Both of the above are simply not true.
If you are receiving hands-on manual therapy or are at home using a foam roller or lacrosse ball for a release, it is essential that your body is relaxed & that you are breathing easily.
When you are wanting a muscle in your body to relax, whether it be you are receiving hands-on manual work or are doing something on your own, keep the 3 key points in mind as gauges for if you are past your nervous system’s threshold or not.
Make sure you are:
1. Not tensing up elsewhere in your body. It is important to stay as relaxed as possible throughout your body.
2. Breathing easily. If it feels challenging to breath with an easy depth, the contact is too intense.
3. Present in your body. If you have to dissociate from your body in order to withstand the pressure, that is not useful. It is essential that you are present & aware in your body in order to make long-lasting change.
Just because something feels more intense, does not mean it is more useful. The more your body & muscles can relax & surrender to external pressure & contact, the more you will actually be able to gain more range-of-motion & flexibility.