There is anecdotal evidence that in addition to triggering emotional catharsis from time to time, SMR has less dramatic emotional benefits.

When Yoga Tune Up® creator Jill Miller was writing her book, The Roll Model: A Step-by-Step Guide to Erase Pain, Improve Mobility and Live Better in Your Body (Victory Belt Publishing 2014), she put out
a request for stories about how her Yoga Therapy Balls had been useful to those who had used them.

“A major category that outnumbered all others was how people used the Therapy Balls for self-soothing and emotional regulation,” she says.

Miller suggests that self-massage positively impacts the nervous system, which can enhance relaxation and stress relief.

“When you apply pressure in certain areas of the body, it helps to reset the central nervous system. Giving more to the parasympathetic (which induces relaxation, slows heart rate) and taking away from the sympathetic (which quickens heart rate, raises blood pressure) is enough to create a global emotional state change,” she explains.

There is research evidence to support Miller. Studies have shown that applying pressure has been associated with slowed heart rates, lowered cortisol and blood pressure levels, and more (Diego 2009; Young-Hee 2011).

To read more about how to support clients when self-massage tools like foam rollers release more than tight muscles and trigger points, please see “When Myofascial Release Gets Emotional” in the online IDEA Library or in the February 2016 print issue of IDEA Fitness Journal. If you cannot access the full article and would like to, please contact the IDEA Inspired Service Team at (800) 999-4332, ext. 7.


Diego, M.A., & Field, T. 2009. Moderate pressure massage elicits a parasympathetic nervous system response. The International Journal of Neuroscience, 119 (5), 630-38.
Young-Hee, L. 2011. The effects of heat and massage application on autonomic nervous system. Younsei Medical Journal, 52 (6), 982-89.

Ryan Halvorson

Ryan Halvorson is an award-winning writer and editor. He is a long-time author and presenter for IDEA Health & Fitness Association, fitness industry consultant and former director of group training for Bird Rock Fit. He is also a Master Trainer for TriggerPoint.

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