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Self-Myofascial Release (SMR) Guidelines

SMR Guide


If you have any bone or muscle pathologies, i.e., osteoporosis or other conditions that affect the integrity of your musculoskeletal frame, seek advice from your medical practitioner before performing SMR.

Understand where the muscle you’re trying to affect is located. The demonstration video and anatomy image will help you understand this.

Ensure you can differentiate between discomfort from muscle tenderness versus joint pain. You should never experience pain in a joint; if you do, STOP!

You should NOT experience pins and needles, shooting pain or numbness in response to SMR. If you do, STOP! This could indicate that you are compressing nerves or arteries.

If new to SMR, take the less is more approach and gauge your response later that day or the next to ensure you don’t experience any adverse reactions.


Perform SMR on both sides of the body, i.e. if rolling a right thigh, roll the left as well.

Locate and concentrate on tender areas; if too uncomfortable, decrease the load on the tissue by adjusting your body position.

Perform SMR for 30 – 90 seconds on a region, ensuring you can relax into the roller or massage ball.

Stay on soft tissues, avoiding bones and joints.

Do not use hard rollers or balls if rolling close to the spine and around the rib cage. These have a higher risk of injury. Soft rollers are generally safer, and massage balls are only suitable for areas with plenty of soft tissue to protect the skeletal frame.

Ensure you effectively stabilise your body, using your core and good joint alignment.

NEVER place pressure from a roller or ball across the neck or head whilst lying on the floor. Unless the roller or ball is used like a pillow to support the head.

Breathe and relax on the roller or ball, following the above principles.

Additional small movements may be made to enhance the effect of SMR. These may include small oscillations of your body, leg or arm when you have relaxed onto a tender area. An example may be flexing the knee when locating a tight spot on the front of the thigh.

However, if you are not confident in your ability to perform SMR safely, many health professionals can advise and coach you in person, such as Osteopaths, Physios, Chiropractors and Personal Trainers.