Myofascial Release (“myo” meaning muscle and “fascia’ meaning connective tissue) is a very effective, whole-body, highly specialized, hands-on technique for the evaluation and treatment of the human structure. Myofascial Release is not massage. Each session is performed directly on skin without oils, creams, or machinery.
Myofascial Release can address problems that have not responded to previous surgeries, therapies, and medications, bringing about lasting changes. Gentle, sustained pressure is applied into the connective tissue restrictions. When gentle pressure is applied slowly, the fascia is allowed to elongate. This gentle, sustained pressure into the myofascial restrictions produces consistent results in eliminating pain and restoring motion.
Restrictions can occur when there is physical trauma to the body such as surgical procedures, motor vehicle accidents, falls, inflammatory responses or an infectious process. These restrictions can produce a tensile strength of approximately 2,000 pounds per square inch on pain sensitive structures. These fascia restrictions do not show up on x-rays, MRIs, CAT scans, etc. Fascial strains can slowly tighten and over time, the tightness spreads like a pull in a sweater or stocking. Flexibility and spontaneity of movement are lost which can cause more trauma, pain, and restriction of movement.
The goal is to eliminate the fascial restrictions and restore the body’s equilibrium, allowing the body to self-correct and restoring function and performance with a pain-free, active lifestyle.
The fascia (connective tissue) is a specialized system of the body that has an appearance similar to a spider’s web or a sweater. Fascia exists from head to foot without interruption, covering and interpenetrating every muscle, bone, nerve, artery and vein as well as all our internal organs, including the heart, lungs, brain, and spinal cord.
In the normal healthy state, 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, the fascia loses its pliability. It becomes tight, restricted and a source of tension to the rest of the body.
Trauma, such as falls, whiplash, surgery, or 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 approximately 2,000 pounds per square inch, producing pain or restriction of motion, affecting our flexibility and stability. It is also a determining factor in our ability to withstand stress and strain.
Because fascia permeates all regions of the body and is all interconnected, when it scars and hardens in one area after an injury, inflammation, disease, surgery, etc., it can put tension on adjacent pain-sensitive structures as well as on structures in far-away areas.
Fascia plays an important role in the support of our bodies since it surrounds and attaches to all structures. These structures would not be able to provide the stability without the constant pull of the fascial system. Our bones can be thought of as tent poles, which cannot support the structure without the constant support of the guide wires (fascia) to keep an adequate amount of tension to the tent (body) to remain upright with proper equilibrium.
The use of Myofascial Release allows the therapist to look at you as a unique individual. The one-on-one therapy sessions are hands-on treatments during which the therapist uses a multitude of Myofascial Release techniques. The therapist is softening the tissue by using a constant, gentle pressure with each technique, which is held approximately five minutes. That constant, gentle pressure releases the tightness because the hyaluronic acid (gel-like substance) that is enclosed between the weave of the fascia softens. This softening of the gel-like substance from the constant, gentle pressure is called the piezoelectric effect. The piezoelectric effect forces those molecules to line up and cause an electrical current to cross it which softens that gel to more of a solution.
During Myofascial Release treatments you may be treated in areas that you may not think are related to your condition. The trained therapist has a thorough understanding of the fascial system and will release the fascia in areas where there is a strong drag on your area of injury. Myofascial Release is a whole-body approach to treatment. The therapist acknowledges your symptoms but looks elsewhere for the cause.
Myofascial Release is gentle, but it has profound effects upon the body tissues. Do not let the gentleness deceive you. You may leave after the first treatment feeling like nothing happened. Later (even a day later) you may begin to feel the effects of the treatment.
The first treatment consists of taking a brief medical history, performing a structural evaluation and a myofascial release treatment, which will take approximately 1-1/2 hours. Because every individual is different, a visual and palpatory standing analysis of your structure will be performed. After the therapist discusses the analysis with you, the myofascial release treatment will begin. Try to relax as much as possible during the session by breathing deeply and slowly. Please talk to your therapist if you have any questions or if there are any concerns you may have about the treatment such as the pressure of the therapist’s touch, the temperature of the room or table, your comfort level, etc. You will need to drink one to two glasses of water after your treatment to help rid your body of toxins that were released during your treatment.
Each treatment is one hour in length except for the initial visit, which is approximately 1-1/2 hours. Custom-designed intensive programs are available if you desire more in-depth work. Individual sessions are tailored to your needs.
It is recommended you start with two treatments per week. Experience indicates that fewer than two treatments per week will often result in fascial tightness creeping back to the level prior to the last treatment.
No exact timeframe can be determined for the duration of treatments due to factors such as the longer the problem has been present, generally the longer it will take to resolve the problem as well as other variables such as how compliant you are with being treated, how compliant you are with your home stretching program, and how your body responds to treatment.
Your improvement may not progress in a straight line but may have ups and downs much like a stair-step approach. Do not give up hope. Even though you may have ups and downs, you are still making progress and improving.
Individual sessions are tailored to your needs. Custom-designed intensive programs are available for patients desiring more in-depth work.
You should bring the following to each appointment – Women: a sports bra and walking shorts; Men: walking shorts. These items should be comfortable and easy to move in.
Do not wear any body lotion to your treatments. Body lotion makes it difficult for the therapist to hold the myofascial release techniques due to their hands sliding on the skin. If your skin is dry, you may bring the body lotion with you and apply it after the treatment.
Some of the most common conditions for which Myofascial Release is appropriate are:
- Acute and Chronic Pain
- Auto Injuries
- Back Pain
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Disc Problems
- Elbow, Wrist and Hand Pain
- Hip Pain
- Jaw Pain, TMJ Dysfunction
- Knee, Ankle and Foot Pain
- Myofascial Pain Syndrome
- Neck Pain
- Pelvic Problems
- Plantar Fascitis
- Restriction of Motion
- Sacral/Coccygeal Dysfunction
- Scarring and Adhesions
- Shoulder Pain
- Sports Injuries
- Stress and Tension Related Problems
- Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
- Women’s Health Issues
- Work Injuries
- Back to questions
Myofascial stretching is a form of stretching that addresses the shortening of the elasto-collagenous complex in order to release a fascial restriction. Myofascial stretching is different from traditional stretching in that it affects all parts of the elasto-collagenous complex, not just the elastin or muscular component. This allows for a more permanent release and also helps rehydrate the ground substance.
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