What is Myofascial Release?
Barry Jennings Sep 26, 2013
Myofascial Release is a very effective hands-on therapy that has been used successfully for over a hundred years to treat difficult and recurring injuries and pain. Before we learn about Myofascial Release it would be helpful to learn what this therapy actually treats. And in order to do that we must learn a little bit about the soft tissue called myofascia.
What is Myofascia?
Myofascia, pronounced "my o faashaa", is the dense tough tissue that surrounds and covers all your muscles and bones. This outer covering, called fascia is very strong and very flexible. In fact is has the tensile strength of over 2000lbs.
Under a microscope Myofascia resembles a spider web or fish net. It is very organized and very flexible in a healthy state. It can best be described as a complete body suit which runs from the top of your head down to the bottom of your toes. It is continuous and has no beginning or end and can be found almost everywhere in your body. Like yarn in a sweater the entire body is connected to every other part of the body by the fascia. It is a continuous weave of material. And like a pull in a sweater, damage to an area of Myofascia can effect other distant areas in your body even years later.
In the normal healthy state the Myofascia is relaxed and soft. It has the ability to stretch and move without restriction. When you experience physical trauma or inflammation the Myofascia loses is pliability. It can become tight, restricted and a source of tension throughout the rest of the body. Trauma, such as a fall whiplash, surgery or habitual poor posture has a cumulative effect over time.
In a healthy body Myofascia helps to maintain good posture, range of motion and flexibility. It also gives our bodies tremendous strength and helps us deal with excessive stress and injuries.
A example of Myofascia would be when you remove the skin from a chicken breast, that white filmy tissue underneath the skin is Myofascia and in a living state is very strong.
To summarize, Myofascia is like a superficial body suit, which allows us to move freely, breath properly and perform our daily tasks pain free. It spans the whole body and is totally connected as one piece of material. "It is called the tissue of movement".
When Myofascia is damaged or traumatized it can become too tight and cause a number of problems such as:
- Muscle pain and spasms
- Chronic back and neck pain
- Recurring injuries
- Breathing difficulties
- Sensations such as numbness and pins and needles
- Poor posture and reduced flexibility
Things that can cause this once flexible tissue (Myofascia) to become too tight are:
- Traumas, such as a fall or car accident
- Work injuries
- Poor posture
- Lack of stretching such as prolonged sitting or standing
- Emotional/psychological stress
- Repetitive motions, such as factory work or keyboarding
However, there is a treatment that can effectively treat this tough, tight fascial tissue making it more relaxed, pliable and soft. It is called Myofascial Release. Myofascial Release is an effective hands-on therapy which can directly change and improve health of the fascia. The purpose of Myofascial Release is to break down scar tissue, relax the muscle and myofascia and restore good posture.
Myofascial Release techniques focus on relaxing the deep tissue of the body providing lasting and effective relief to the client and patient. As mentioned, Myofascial Release technique is applied directly on the body and uses slow and sometimes deep pressure to restore the proper health of the fascia.
Myofascial Release therapy has been used effectively for:
- Low back pain
- Neck stiffness
- Shoulder injuries
- Arthritic conditions
- Sports injuries
- Plus many more
The benefits of using Myofascial Release therapy includes:
- Reduction in muscle spasms
- Improved joint movement
- Decreased muscle and fascial tension
- Improved breathing
- Reduction in chronic recurring injuries
In general Myofascial Release is used to improve the health of the muscles and fascia, improve circulation and restore good posture.
What does a Myofascial Release treatment feel like?
The pressure can range from very gentle touch to deeper pressure. The pressure from Myofascial Release therapy should never be beyond your tolerance and it is important to give feedback to your practitioner during the treatment.
Some patients may experience a slight skin burning sensation in the skin, which is perfectly normal and safe. Others may feel a gentle to deep stretch on the area being treated.
Myofascial Release treatments can last from 15 minutes to over an hour. It is performed by a qualified practitioner who has studied this advanced work.
The techniques of Myofascial Release therapy help to re-organize and lengthen the tight tissue allowing for better movement and health to the tissue.
Myofascial Release was specifically designed to relax the fascia throughout the whole body. And because tension in fascia can effect and cause pain in other areas, your therapist may treat other areas of the body to positively affect your treatment outcome. For example, your Myofascial Release practitioner may work on the hips and low back to help reduce tension in the neck which in turn can cause headaches. This is the benefit of a whole body approach that makes myofascial release such an effective treatment.
Because each patient is different the number of treatments required may vary, however a general rule is that you should notice a change in your condition with the application of Myofascial Release. Your practitioner will discuss your treatment plan and projected outcome with you during your first Myofascial Release session.
To conclude, Myofascial Release is a very effective treatment program that can significantly improve many soft tissue and orthopedic conditions. To see if Myofascial Release is right for you please contact your local practitioner or Medical Doctor.
Elements has several massage therapists who use this fascinating technique. Call today to find out more!