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Self Massage Post #2: Self-Myofascial Release (SMFR)

SMFRWhat? Put another way...

Would you like a FREE 24-hour (on-call) Deep-Tissue Massage Therapist?

Self-Myofascial Release is probably the most popular form of “Self-Massage” that people talk about today in the fitness industry, as it be mimics the amorphous “Deep-Tissue Massage” that has brought countless people out of the pit of physical and emotional pain and immobilization.

In this blog post I am going introduce the most popular forms of Self-MFR (self myo-fascial release) tools and methods. This post will inevitably morph and shift over time as I add resources, education, and practical tid-bits.

Fun Fact: my very own brother, Shane Dowd, is an emerging leader in the realm of Self-MFR and online education. I’ll write more about that below. He first introduced to this form of self-massage, and I’ve rolling, scrubbing, and sighing away on various shapes and sizes of therapy tools every since 2012.


Well, first..."Myofascial release [MFR] is a manipulative treatment that attempts to release tension in the fascia due to trauma, posture, or inflammation. […] Points of restriction in the fascia can place a great deal of pressure on nerves and muscles causing chronic pain." (

In short, Self-MFR work is usually a set of movement routines, and breath awareness that helps to correct poor posture, chronic pain, and helps anyone who reads, uses a computer or phone, and drives (aka most of us).


There are a lot of different resources out there, but in general go towards the Yoga Tune Up balls if you consider yourself in general good health. If you are a athlete or used to lifting heavy weights…you might be more drawn to my brother shane’s educational videos at He uses a variety of tools (including the Yoga Tune Up Balls) that are more suited to athletes.

Three other product lines and educational resources I've played around with are, the 1) Yamuna system (inflatable balls), 2) the Supple Leopard/Mobility Wod (balls, bands, and cross-fit gym equipment, and 3) the Melt Method (creative foam rolling). (See links below).

Of course, folks have played around with soccer balls, tennis balls, golf balls (ouch), door handles, wooden blocks, rubber dog toys, and so on...but as this post is meant to be an overview and introduction... I want to focus your attention on:

The most important thing is HOW you are doing self-massage.

Tom Myers, a leader in the field of Bodywork, Movement, and Fascial Anatomy has some darn essential points written as an excert from his post: “Foam Rolling and Self-Myofascial Release”:

I value the knowing hand over the unknowing object as a tool for inner body change. […] Not everyone can afford bodywork, so using a tool can be a cheap and cheerful way of getting some of the same effects. When you do, I offer the following advice:

1) Move slowly. Fast rolling is less effective at ‘squeezing the sponge’, and can result in creating useless muscle tension, bruising, and perhaps receptor damage. The deeper you are going, the more slowly you should move.

2) Look for ‘unknown’ places. Doing the same rolling program continually has rapidly diminishing returns. Keep rolling different places in your body, and look for the places you haven’t touched yet, and get in there. For example: Lying on your side and rolling the inner side of your upper thigh over the roller. Rolling the front and back of your armpit. Your back has many. many layers and can be usefully rolled at deeper levels, but will not respond to the same-old-same-old.

3) Hold the roller or tool still and move over it to create ‘shear’ that will de-adhese the fascial planes.

[...] Rolling that is mindful, slow, and perceptive is way more useful than painful rolling that is done quickly while texting, listening to music, and eyeing the hottie on the other side of the gym.

It’s super amazing to give yourself a massage exactly where you need it, and at the time of day you need it!

I think many folks give up on the “foam-rolling your quads to death” standard prescription because it doesn’t meet them where they are, or treat their main physical issues.

If you’re local, you can see me in person for Self-Massage & Mobility Personal Coaching, which consists of a short structural evaluation, some breathing techniques, and developing a SMFR routine that’s unique to your structural strengths and imbalances.

I love what Jill Miller (Yoga TuneUp) says about Self-MFR:

"It’s a Self-Care Healthcare Revolution!" Amen to that.

Online, In-Person, and Book Learning Resources: (what I’ve trained in) (my brother)


Cheap Tools:

High Bounce Pinky Ball

Lacross balls

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