It’s February and Valentine’s Day is nearly upon us. A day to spend with that special someone along with fine wine, steak and lobster and Barry White’s greatest hits. While your main squeeze may own a piece of real estate inside that life-pumping organ of yours it is up to you to take care of yourself and maintain a healthy heart.
Most people think of exercising and eating well when it comes to cardiovascular health but we’re going to fill you in on some exciting new research that may be a game changer. Recent research suggests that the benefits of self-myofascial release extend past the realm of athletic performance, recovery and mobility. We typically think of the effects that SMR has on soft tissues like muscles, fascia, tendons and even joints but we don’t usually consider its effects on the cardiovascular system including the heart, lungs, veins and arteries. It turns out a few minutes of release work with Rad Roller products can potentially reduce arterial stiffness… which is a very good thing! A study published by the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research investigated the effects of SMR on the stiffness of arteries and vascular endothelial function (Okamoto, 2013). Say what now? In English, normal healthy arteries are capable of dilating (expanding) to increase blood flow or contracting to decrease blood flow as required. Throughout our lifetime our arteries become stiff and less compliant which is associated with an increased risk of events such as a stroke or heart attack. You may be familiar with the term atherosclerosis – narrowing of arteries due to build-up of plaque – which is something that should be prevented or reversed at all costs.
So here’s what you need to know about the study. There were two groups of healthy yet inactive people assigned to one of two groups: control with no intervention and a SMR group with a treatment effect. The SMR group performed foam rolling for muscle groups in the legs and upper traps for one minute, or 20 reps back and forth, at each site. The control group simply rested on their back and daydreamed of Channing Tatum driving a child's car, through a rainbow filled wonderland. (Okay that part is made up).Measurements including blood pressure, heart rate, arterial stiffness and plasma nitric oxide concentration were taken using a cuff before and 30 minutes after each trial for both groups. Results indicated that there was no significant effect for the control group while the SMR group saw reduced arterial stiffness and improved vascular endothelial function (which is responsible for control of the volume and electrolyte content of blood, platelet adhesion and mediation of coagulation of blood).
In conclusion, stiff and rigid arteries stress the heart and force it to work harder by pumping blood throughout the network of arteries with more pressure. More rigid arteries and more plaque means more work for the heart which has negative long term consequences. The Rad Roller products are designed to reduce stiffness, decrease muscle soreness and improve mobility by positively impacting the nervous system but we are excited to see that the benefits may very well extend to our cardiovascular system as well. Of course much more research is needed but we’ll be sure to keep you posted as the body of evidence continues to grow. Kickstart your heart and incorporate some release work into your daily routine. If you’re stuck for a Valentine’s gift idea give the gift of health, hook your main squeeze up with a Rad Roller All-In Kit and be sure to write in the Valentine’s card that your gift is truly one for the heart.
Director of Education
Okamoto T., Masuhara M., Ikuta K. (2013). Acute effects of self-myofascial release using a foam roller on arterial function. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 28:1:69-73.