ROLL With It

Pilates Style|July - August 2020

ROLL With It
Self-myofascial release is a simple (no machines!), easy way to decrease tension and pain, plus it may help you get more out of your Pilates practice.
Jeanine Detz

BOOK A SESSION WITH KATHLEEN KELLER, OWNER OF KELLER METHOD PILATES & REHABILITATION IN CALGARY, ALBERTA, CANADA, and you might spend as much time rolling on small rubber balls as you do on a Reformer. Keller, who has multiple Pilates certifications, including STOTT® Pilates, Polestar and The Method Center (Rehab Pilates), believes that self-myofascial release—applying pressure to the tissues that surround, support and connect muscles—is an ideal companion to Pilates. She’s been practicing what she preaches for more than two decades, since she first took a body-rolling certification program led by Yamuna Zake.

“The techniques were profound and I knew that teaching this to my clients would be a real game changer,” says Keller. “I practiced on myself religiously and when I could feel real improvements, I began to teach my clients.” Now a rehabilitative Pilates practitioner, Keller has improved upon and built on her self-myofascial release methods over the years, and now customizes the moves based on each client’s needs.

Since Keller took that Yamuna certification class 20 years ago, the popularity of self-myofascial release has soared. It’s now a mainstay in athletic training plans and physical therapy, and has spawned many successful brands such as Yamuna USA and Yoga Tune Up. And with good reason: Self-myofascial release is accessible, requires very little gear and has many proven benefits.


Self-myofascial release (SMR) is like a deep-tissue massage you perform on yourself using tools like balls and rollers. “Fascia” refers to all the connective tissue beneath the skin that attaches, surrounds and separates muscles and organs. “Myofascia” refers to muscles (like the pecs) and their surrounding fascia. So SMR by definition is a technique that helps loosen up muscles and its connecting fibers.

Muscles have two kinds of receptors: a Golgi tendon organ and a muscle spindle. The first tells the muscle to relax, and the second signals the muscle to contract. When you apply pressure to the tissues surrounding a muscle, it fires up the Golgi tendon organ, messaging the tissue to (you guessed it) relax.



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July - August 2020