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Your PT Guide to SMR

August 29, 2019

SMR, or self-myofascial release, is a method of releasing trigger points throughout the body to restore normal function. Trigger points are usually developed when the body is injured or overworked, but can also be caused by, repetitive movements, improper posture, muscle trauma from accidents or high contact sports, and more. As these triggers can be quite painful, the aim of SMR is to release the tension in these areas.

Why should you do it?

SMR is a wonderful way to release muscle tension, it can help relieve the pain from DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) after a workout. What’s more, SMR can reduce muscle pain and boost recovery by encouraging blood flow to the muscles.

How to do it

Now we’ve established what SMR is, let’s discuss releasing those trigger points!  As the name suggests, this is something your clients can do by themselves. However, it would be helpful if you, the personal trainer, could offer this advice to your clients to ensure they know what they’re doing.

The first thing they need is to ensure they have the correct equipment. Anything similar to a foam roller or a tennis ball will work fine. From there, it’s just about identifying the trigger points. We suggest starting from the bottom and working up the body, ensuring each muscle group is covered.

How to tell when you’ve hit a trigger point

How can you tell when you have found a trigger point? Well, it will hurt! However, once that trigger point has been found, stopping to rest on the roller for up to 20 seconds. Despite what people believe, it’s actually the pressure and not the rolling that releases the trigger.

The pros and cons of SMR

Of course, the biggest pro is that SMR releases trigger points. It can relieve pain and, as mentioned, it can increase the blood flow to the muscles. This will help muscle recovery, especially after a tough workout. SMR can also help flush out lactic acid and ensure better blood circulation for efficient recovery.

If you perform SMR before a workout, given you have warmed up properly, it can offer temporary aid for flexibility and range of motion (ROM). However, this is not scientifically backed and, as mentioned, is only temporary. It should not be used as a replacement for a warmup or stretching.

As for the cons, there is the risk of further injury and the level of pain that SMR causes. While it is supposed to hurt, it should not be unbearable. If it is, professional advice is recommended. What’s more, when performed incorrectly, there will be a bigger chance of injury. Finally, pain and trigger points could be caused by underlying issues such as muscle imbalances. If SMR is only being used to correct the trigger point, there may not be any improvements made. Therefore, it may be a way to treat the trigger points, but it won’t be solely reliable.

The best PT service comes with the best guidance

Now we have laid out what SMR does for the body, you can guide your clients to aid their muscle recovery. However, before you can do any of this, you need to have the correct qualifications to even begin offering PT services. With a range of courses from Fit2Train, you can provide your clients with a valuable service. Email us at to learn more about our courses available from entry-level two up-to advanced level four.

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