Breathing Before Tissue Quality and the Vibra Roll

For as long as I have been using self myofacial release (SMR) in my training programs, I have done it first thing before each workout.. Yes I have done SMR post workout as well, but I definitely have always felt that pre workout is the best time for SMR. It just makes sense to me to have the best tissue quality possible going into mobility and activation work.

For as long as I have been using breathing techniques in my training programs, I’ve been doing it directly after SMR and before mobility and activation. I know it’s a great idea to establish a good breathing pattern and settle down the autonomic nervous system before doing corrective exercises in order to get the most out of the exercises and the entire workout as a whole.

For whatever reason, I just stuck with doing SMR first, and added the breathing exercises after. It made sense. Kind of…

At a team meeting the other day a coach at Complete Fitness Results asked, “why don’t we do the breathing before foam rolling? Wouldn’t it make the foam rolling better?”

A simple question that I had no answer to, but it made sense as well.

So, since I had no real reason as to why SMR should come before breathing, and at least one good reason why breathing should come before SMR, I decided to start trying it on myself.

Before I continue, I have to mention, that at the same time that I stared doing tissue quality after breathing, I started using the VibraRoll.

Breathing and the Vibraroll

I have to say I am totally digging this combo.

Let’s break both and why.


Breathing Before Tissue Quality

Calming down the body and brain before hopping on the foam roller has really seemed to have a better effect.

This really is a very simple concept,

Lie supine and take around 10-15 slow silent breaths in and out of the nose.  The goal is make sure you are getting 360 degree expansion around your abdominals, obliques, low back, and ribcage. You want to make sure you are not using your neck, upper traps, or any other accessory muscles to breath. Inhale for 3-4 seconds, and exhale for 6-8 seconds. You may have a tough time with a 6-8 second exhale, but you will get used to it over time. Make sure you get every ounce of air out of your body before taking the inhale, but control the breathing and make sure it’s silent if possible.

After 10-15 of breaths in that breathing pattern you may feel your diaphragm and pelvic floor are more online, or at least that you are more relaxed and hopefully experiencing less sympathetic nervous system activity and a shift toward parasympathetic.  This is a much better state to get results from your SMR work.

Continue this breathing pattern as you do your SMR work and you will feel the difference on the exhale. If you are using a foam roller, slow it down and let yourself sink into the roller on each exhale, this works especially well on the Vibra Roll.

I like to continue this breathing pattern throughout the tissue quality session, and into the corrective exercise portion of the workout, making sure each movement is slow and deliberate, and each movement is initiated on the exhale. I feel a movement is not “owned” until you can control is on a slow deliberate exhale. So find your weakest link on the FMS screen and continue this breathing pattern throughout your correctives and mobility/activation work.


Using the VibraRoll

The second that I saw this thing I thought it was a gimmick.

I think I said something along the lines of “what are they going to do to foam roller to make them more expensive next?”  Then I tried it, and instantly fell in love.



For some reason the vibration really makes a big difference!

First of all, it seems to make me slow down because the vibration feels good, but the roller feels bad. It’s almost like the vibration is distracting my brain from the pain. Since I’m not in pain it allows me to relax much more. This, combined with the breathing pattern, makes it easy for me to really relax on those sensitive areas, and I can feel the tight and toned areas relax or release.

Second, it’s double duty. Obviously it works just like any other foam roller, plus the vibration really does something extra. Just the vibration alone is a good tactic for tissue quality, but when added to the roller it’s amazing. I’ve never had such good results with a roller as I have with the Vibra Roll, I can just feel it.

I’m not the only one saying this. Our clients are fighting for the Vibra Roll, and some will wait until it’s available instead of using the old rollers. It’s that dramatic of a difference.

Combining the Vibra Roll with the relaxing breathing pattern is a definite winner. Although it’s my first choice, it’s not at all necessary to have a Vibra Roll to get great SMR results. Good breathing and a regular foam roller or other tissue quality devices will definitely do the trick, but if you can, I’d spring for at least one Vibra Roll, for your gym or house.




Try out this breathing pattern before your next few tissue quality sessions and let us know what you think.

Have you used the Vibra Roll? How do you like it?

Have you tried the combo? Let us know what you think.


Steve Long