What Is Myofascial Release?
Myofascial Release, or MFR, is simply one of the most effective methods for relieving pain, restoring posture, and returning one to function. Myofascial Release is a hands-on technique that provides sustained pressure into myofascial restrictions (tightness, scar tissue, injured areas) to eliminate pain and restore motion. The theory of Myofascial Release (“myo” meaning muscle and “fascia” meaning connective tissue) requires an understanding of the fascial system (or connective tissue). The fascia is a specialized system of the body that has an appearance similar to a spider’s web or a sweater.
Fascia is very densely woven, covering and inter-penetrating every muscle, bone, nerve, artery and vein as well as all of our internal organs including the heart, lungs, brain and spinal cord. The most interesting aspect of the fascial system is that it is not just a system of separate coverings. It is actually one structure that exists from head to foot without interruption. In this way you can begin to see that each part of the entire body is connected to every other part by the fascia, like the yarn in a sweater.
Fascia also plays an important role in the support of our bodies, since it surrounds and has attachments to all structures. These structures would not be able to provide the stability without the constant pull of the fascial system. In fact, our bones can be thought of as tent poles, which cannot support the structure without the constant support of the guide wires (or fascia) to keep an adequate amount of tension to allow the tent (or body) to remain upright with proper equilibrium.
In the normal healthy state, the fascia is relaxed and wavy in configuration. It has the ability to stretch and move without restriction. When we experience physical trauma, scarring, or inflammation, however, the fascia loses its pliability. It becomes tight, restricted and a source of tension to the rest of the body. Trauma, such as a fall, whiplash, surgery or just habitual poor posture over time and repetitive stress injuries has a cumulative effect. The changes they cause in the fascial system influence comfort and the functioning of our body. The fascia can exert excessive pressure producing pain or restriction of motion. They affect our flexibility and stability, and are a determining factor in our ability to withstand stress and strain.
The use of Myofascial Release allows me to look at each patient as a unique individual. Our one-on-one therapy sessions are hands-on treatments during which I use a multitude of Myofascial Release techniques and movement therapy. We promote independence through education in proper body mechanics and movement, through the enhancement of strength, flexibility, and postural and movement awareness.
While Myofascial Release may share some commonalities with traditional massage, it is a modality that reaches deeper and creates lasting change. It shares a common goal with standard physical therapy practice, however works from a different perspective. In a traditional physical therapy setting, pain is often viewed as a result of weakness. Strengthening an already tight system often only makes the problem worse. Myofascial Release relieves the tightness and pressure from your body, allowing strength and function to return in a natural manner and returning you to your desired state.