Myofascial Release Therapy

IMG_5017Myofascial Release is generally a mild and gentle form of stretching that has profound effect upon the body’s fascial tissues. Because it is initially perceived as very gentle, many individuals wonder how it could possibly work to release and soften deep hard adhesions. To help you understand this is a basic explanation.

Myofascial release is a form of soft tissue therapy intended for pain relief, increasing range of motion and balancing the body. Works to stretch, soften, lengthen and realign connective tissue to ease pain. Techniques include manual massage for stretching the fascia and releasing bonds between fascia, integument, muscles, and bones are applied. The fascia is manipulated, directly or indirectly to allow the connective tissue fibres to reorganize themselves in a more flexible, functional fashion.

The fascia is a seamless web of connective tissue that covers and connects the muscles, organs, and skeletal structures, located between the skin and the underlying structure of muscle and bone. Muscle and fascia form the myofascial system.

The fascial system is totally one structure that is present from your head to foot without any interruption.

Injuries, stress, inflammation, trauma, and poor posture can cause restriction to fascia. Since fascia is an interconnected web, the restriction or tightness to fascia at a place, with time can spread to other places in the body like a pull in a sweater. The goal of myofascial release is to release fascia restriction and restore its tissue health.

When fascia is injured.
Because the fascia permeates all regions of the body and is all interconnected, when it scars and hardens in one area (following injury, inflammation, disease, surgery, etc.), it can put a significant amount of tension (up to 2000 lbs per square inch) on adjacent pain-sensitive structures as well as on structures in far away areas of the body. This is because the fascia of the body is interconnected, and a restriction in one region can continue to “spread” and put a drag on the fascia in any other direction.

Some patients have bizarre pain symptoms that appear to be unrelated to the original or primary complaint.

These bizarre symptoms can now often be understood in relationship to our understanding of the fascial system.

Treating fascial restrictions:
The point of all the above information is to help you understand that during myofascial release treatments, you may be treated in areas that you may not think are related to your condition.

Registered massage therapists have a thorough understanding of the fascial system and will facilitate a “release” of the fascia in areas that they know have a strong “drag” on your area of injury. This is, therefore, a whole body approach to treatment

A good example is the chronic low back pain patient. Although the low back is primarily involved, the patient may also have significant discomfort in the neck.

This is due to the gradual tightening of the muscles and especially of the fascia, as this tightness has crept its way up the back, eventually creating neck and head pain.

Experience shows that optimal resolution of the low back pain requires release of the fascia of both the head and neck. If the neck tightness is not also released, it will continue to apply a “drag” in the downward direction until fascial restriction and pain have again returned to the lower back.

An important aspect of using fascial release techniques is holding the technique long enough.

The therapeutic effect will begin to take place after holding a gentle stretch for a minimum of 90 seconds and following the tissue as it releases with skilled, sensitive hands to the next barrier.

Myofascial release may be gentle, but it has profound effects upon your body’s tissues.

You may leave after the first treatment feeling like nothing happened. Do not let the gentleness deceive you.

Later that day and even a day or two after you may begin to feel the profound effects of the treatment.

In general, acute cases will resolve with a few treatments. The longer the problem has been present, generally the longer it will take to resolve the problem.

Many chronic conditions (that have developed over a period of years) may require three to four months of treatments up to three times per week to achieve optimal results.

This of course, can easily be accelerated with a commitment of daily home exercises.

What to expect from a treatment:
At times there can be increased pain in the area of complaint and most often in totally remote areas to the original symptoms, up to a day or two after a treatment, often followed by a remarkable noticeable improvement.

This is usual and a completely natural process of your recovery. Usually it is the pains from previously forgotten injuries. While this is usual, it indicates a great leap in you progress.

Although rare, sometimes feelings of light-headedness or nausea can ensue. You may experience emotional feelings. This is usual and indicates a significant release and is considered a good event of change that should be explored further.

All of these are normal reactions of the body to the profound, but healing changes that have occurred by releasing the fascial restrictions.

It is often suspected that the release of tight restrictions in tissues is accompanied by the release of long time trapped metabolic waste products into the surrounding tissue and blood stream.

These are incredibly irritating to pain sensitive structures of the body and may hold a key to some of the more unpleasant effects of the treatment.

It is recommended that you enhance your body’s ability to “flush” these products from the system by drinking a lot of fluid during the course of your treatments, and participating in cardio style activities. This will minimize adverse reactions like nausea and pain.