Which SMR Techniques Should I Do?

Click the techniques below to learn how to help your issue.

The 23 Fundamental SMR techniques are to be practiced at least once every two weeks for each technique, but more often will be necessary for some areas. The Fundamentals include the 3 Primaries and the 20 Secondaries.

The 3 Primary SMR Techniques are to be practiced at least once a week. More often is likely to benefit you more.

The 20 Secondary SMR Techniques are to be practiced at least once for each technique every two weeks as an assessment. More often is likely to benefit you for some techniques, but you should never ignore an area for more than a couple weeks before inspecting it again to ensure you aren't skipping a problem when it is small and relatively easy to fix.
The 47 Extended SMR techniques are to be practiced as needed when dealing with a issue in that area of your body (normally two or three techniques per day). These techniques are meant to be done almost daily when you have an issue in that region (and ONLY when you have an issue in that region).
Take 2-5 minutes for each SMR exercise per side of your body. This will provide enough time under tension to stimulate the GTO and your muscles will likely relax more, allowing you to make quicker progress toward full range pain-free movement. Quicker movements tend to stimulate the muscles, whereas slower movements tend to relax them.

You may need significant SMR work in a particular area. Work through all 70 of the SMR techniques as needed, plus the nearly 90 stretches to address every skeletal muscle in your body. Over time you should need these techniques less often and it should take less time with each technique to get the release you are seeking.
**All information is provided for educational purposes only. You should consult your doctor before attempting any exercises you read on this page or any page on this website.**

When Do I Practice SMR?

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Many of us "out there" do not know when we need to practice a little SMR, or instead a little stretching, or when we should go harder with our workouts, or when we should take a recovery day, etc.

We will not answer all of your training related questions in this post, but we will begin the decision-making process for when to stretch or practice SMR prior to your workout by providing a nifty little flowchart you can refer to when you are beginning your warm up.

Workout-Self-Care-FlowchartIf you can stretch properly and lengthen all of your muscles without any massage work, then your body is working as it should. Simply continue doing whatever it is you are already doing! It's like the saying, "If it isn't broken, don't fix it!" You should stretch and exercise regularly. If you are fully capable with only these two elements in your schedule then you do not need to seek additional methods and assistance.

583_cropped_730x4122-625x360We must stress the need to conduct an assessment of whether or not you truly have the Range Of Motion (ROM) to do all the things you wish to do in your life. To do this assessment you will not need any special knowledge, equipment, or training (no, you do not need a wired hat like in the picture above).

Try to lift or move the normal things in your home or work life. Are these movements easy? Now try to move just a little farther than the ROM you need for those activities. You should be able to move much farther without a load than you can with the load, and well beyond the range you require for any movement (such as touching your toes or reaching straight overhead).

QuitterInstead of challenging themselves to maintain or increase their ROM, many people simply make excuses to no longer do certain activities because they hurt or they have a mistaken belief that the movement in-and-of-itself is dangerous (like squatting below parallel or running is bad for you).

We believe quitting is bad! We want to help you find ways to learn or revisit activities without injuring yourself. Scaling the ROM, loads, and repetitions in any program is almost always a must at times, especially in the beginning, but quitting should never be your answer. If you do not know how to modify your movements to make them safe, hire a personal trainer to guide you.

Workout-Self-Care-FlowchartSo how do you know when to stretch, exercise, practice SMR, or seek the help of a qualified professional? The flowchart above makes it simple. The text below walks you through it...

  1. Start moving.
  2. Feel stiff and restricted?
  3. Stretch and do some light exercises.
  4. Still feel stiff and restricted?
  5. Practice some SMR and more stretching/light exercise for the tight areas.
  6. Still feel stiff and restricted?
  7. Are you hydrated? (especially hydrated with balanced electrolytes)
  8. If you are capable of safely performing the movements in the workout, proceed. If not, contact your local hands-on therapist to get the help you need. Here is a link to help you find some local therapists.

Does this list cover everything you need to know about self care? No. Does every problem have a complicated answer. No. Some of the simple things that will solve your problem you are not in the habit of doing. The most common cause to movement limitations in the gym that we've found in over twenty years of instruction is the lack of effort a person makes into changing the bad habits they have. Start with hydration. Add some stretching. Move in ways you might not be doing while you are at work. Limber up those joints and extend your reach just a bit outside your comfort zone. When stretching is not improving your ROM, add in massage work (both on your own and with a professional). If that isn't solving your movement limitations, then take it a step farther but with professional guidance. Take a concerted interest in your own health and well-being. It is not the physician's job to be your nanny and clean up after all of your mistakes. You need to clean up some of them yourself.

You just might be surprised by how much you can improve your quality of life by diligently practicing your SMR homework, some complimentary stretches, and keeping yourself hydrated. Take it one day at a time. Now go take care of yourself!

Toe Alignment in Footwear for Foot Health

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If you are anything like me, you have struggled with toe, foot, and calf issues for years. It came to my attention at 19 years of age that my shoes were NOT the right size for my feet. usmc-boot I joined the United States Marine Corps,and amongst the moments of shear terror, aggression, and exhaustion I learned a few things that weren't specifically about killing my enemy. One very important lesson I learned on day one: my footwear had been too small for my feet for most of my life.

I was wearing a size 9 shoe when I entered MCRD San Diego to begin my Marine Corps training. They collect all your personal clothing, wallet, jewelry, etc. when you enter and issue you all the clothing, toiletries, and other personal effects you will use while on your 13-week journey to becoming a killing machine. When they issued me size 10.5 boots I responded "I wear size 9," to which they responded "WHO THE F*&% HAS BEEN PUTTING YOU IN SHOES TOO SMALL FOR YOUR FEET?!?!?!"boots0410

That was 25 year ago, and it has taken me the majority of that time to undo the severe restriction of ROM and function in my feet and toes that was a product of "binding" my feet in footwear a size-and-a-half too small for the majority of my formative years. Amazing how hard it can be to overcome a few years of poor choices...

About ten years ago I began wearing Nike Free shoes.
eric_avar_nike_free_original Not only were they SUPER comfortable (like wearing a sock and walking on marshmallows), they could roll up into a ball or move in all the amazing ways a foot is supposed to be able to!nike-free_final_std.original

That lead to "zero-drop" shoes like my Merrell Trail Gloves. I still own 5 pairs of these and LOVE them!
merrell-trail-glove

Which then lead me to Vibram Five Fingers. Pictured here are the Treksport Sandals, my FAVORITE of the Five Finger lineup!Treksport_Sandal-M4301-hero

And I've experimented along the way with numerous massage tools, compression garments and tools, toe spreaders, toe exercise devices, etc. While still continuing to work on my toe and foot function, the work has paid off. I no longer experience severe calf and foot cramps. I have MUCH better hopping endurance than I ever had in my youth. I can walk barefoot on stone pebbles now (which I could not do when I was ten years old). I was also able to resolve significant nerve pain in my toes without surgery or drugs. Below is a short video from one of the influences along my journey to happier feet. Please take a moment to watch and learn what you can do in your free time to help yourself have set of "happy feet."

Core Concepts

We utilized the following concepts to build the Alexander Method of SMR.

These physiologic processes, laws, and principles provide the foundational concepts to fully understand how to approach self-care in the safest, most effective manner possible.

We provide definitions and descriptions of the concepts below, as well as link to external sites when possible to offer more resources.

If we can help you understand the relationship of these concepts to each other and how to use them in managing your muscle issues, do not hesitate to call on us. You can sign up for one of our upcoming certifications at SMRCerts or email us at info@smrtips.com.

We are here to help you get more out of your self-care efforts!

Davis's Law

soft tissue models along...

lines of stress; tight stays tight, weak stays weak (shortened stays shortened, overstretched stays overstretched). A person with rounded shoulders exhibits this...the pecs are shortened and tight while the rhomboids are overstretched and weak.

In other words, how and what you do with your body will determine what you will be able to do in the future, because your muscles and other soft tissues will literally grow to accommodate the stuff you do throughout the day. Don't work on being more flexible and you will grow less flexible over time.

Although not immediately apparent, this is the most influential factor controlling your ability to move properly as you age.

Read more

Autogenic Inhibition

is a process whereby a sensor in the tendon (golgi tendon organ or GTO) sends a signal to...

the brain to release the sensor in the attached muscle (muscle spindles).

The GTO is triggered by a constant level of just the right amount of tension for just the right amount of time. For most people, this period of time is at least 20 seconds, but can be substantially longer.

Static stretching and self-myofascial release both elicit this response. This is partly why slower SMR techniques tend to produce a more profound result.

Read more

Stretch Reflex

the knee-jerk response your thigh does when...

the doctor gently whacks your knee. The muscle spindles are “hard-wired” to your spinal cord to react to muscle fibers being stretched too quickly. This is also the reason your muscle will cramp when you apply too much pressure too quickly to a knot when doing SMR.
Read more

Relative Flexibility

using a combination of joints to accomplish...

a movement goal when one or more joints lack full functional range of motion. (e.g., allowing your heels to rise off the ground and your chest to face down during a deep squat due to poor soleus and psoas flexibility; raising your hips to reach something overhead because you can’t raise your arms completely up to your ears, etc.)
Read more

Reciprocal Inhibition

the process of one muscle activating (agonist) and causing...

the opposite muscle (antagonist) to release.

Dynamic flexibility elicits this response, which in a way can be considered the opposite of autogenic inhibition (in which sensors in a tendon "turn off" the same muscle they are connected to).

Alternating between high kicks and butt kicks with the heels is a good example of using either side of the thigh to help loosen the other side.

Read more

Arndt-Shultz Rule

(formerly Arndt-Shultz Law), relax and take...

it slowly; weak stimuli activate physiological responses, while very strong stimuli inhibit physiological responses.

Although the dominant theme of pharmacologist Hugo Shulz and Dr Rudolf Arndt's work is centered on poisons and toxins, the physiologic responses are somewhat consistent when looking at physical stresses to the body as well as chemical ones.

Doing deep tissue work on yourself slowly and gently using leverage, gravity, and torque is more effective than using force.

Read more

Law of Facilitation

the path of...

least resistance; when a nerve impulse has passed through a certain set of neurons, it will tend to use that same path in the future. Each time the signal passes this same path the resistance is less.

This is why old injuries tend to get re-aggravated with less stimulus.

It is also why the more often you get massaged, the easier it is to relax a tight muscle.

Read more

The Cricket

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22nd Extended -- The Cricket
Use this SMR exercise AFTER the Quads Roll

This SMR exercise is a variation of the Adductors Roll movement to address all of the muscle mass along the insides of your thighs. You may find this exercise easier.

If the Adductors Roll is too intense to work with, then practice the Cricket to more gently work out the "junk" in your inner thighs. It may take a month or two to help your muscles along to become healthy enough to handle the second Primary technique (which is the preferred standard SMR technique for the adductors).

If you have tightness or discomfort of the hip or the inside of your knees, then this exercise is likely to help.
For written instructions, click here.

(Video coming soon!)

Click here to see the rest of the SMR Techniques.
Be sure to post your questions and comments below. We want to provide the best instruction to help you recover from your workouts.

**All information is provided for educational purposes only. You should consult your doctor before attempting any exercises you read on this page or any page on this website.**

Show Us Your SMR Love

This was posted on Jeff's wall on FaceBook today:

"Thank you for the add Mr. Jeff Alexander. As you can tell from all my pics of SMR at CrossFit FTF, I am a HUGE fan. Thank you for your products. I'm honored that you choose to use my pic for your cover page as well. Thank you for all you do."

Matt, your supportive feedback and commitment to continual improvement are the reasons we do what we do. You keep up the good work, and we'll keep trying to help you get there!

Matt put this picture up, and Jeff made it his cover image:
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Post your SMR-related pics on Jeff's wall or the SMR FaceBook page. If we like it we might repost it to remind others to make SMR a regular part of their day. You'll move better and get faster results through your efforts by practicing the techniques regularly. Good luck!

Interview with Jeff: What is SMR?

This short interview was conducted just prior to the SMR Coaches Clinic at CrossFit Invictus in San Diego. Jeff was asked to describe what SMR is, and why would you want to do it. He gives brief explanations to the science and methodology of self-myofascial release. If you aren't doing it, you should be! Watch the video to learn more.

Bike Wear World filmed this interview. They're big fans of SMR, and Jeff appreciates their help promoting it to the public. Thanks, Sami!

Want to share this video? Look below for the URL and the embedding script.

URL :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aJUz4xvnHXs&feature=player_embedded

SMR for 091229

Here is a fascinating and easy-to-read over view of human tissue, Davis's Law, plyometrics, elasticity of tissues and plasticity: http://www.begin2dig.com/2009/06/plastic-vs-elastic-when-talking-about.html

Continue working on your "trouble area." What differences do you notice? Post comments regarding your progress.