Myofascial Release is a specialised physical and manual therapy used for the effective treatment and rehabilitation of soft tissue and fascial tension and restrictions.
‘Myo’ means muscle and ‘fascia’ means band. Fascia, an embryological connective tissue, is a 3D continuous web of elastin and collagen fibres surrounded by a viscous fluid called the ground substance. These two fibre types allow it to be very strong yet have a high degree of flexibility whilst the ground substance is a fluid transportation medium and acts a slide and glide mechanism between structures.
Fascia surrounds, infuses and protects every other tissue, tendon, muscle, bone, ligament and organ of the body. In healthy conditions the fascial system is relaxed and wavy in configuration. This provides a cushioning and supportive mechanism allowing us to move safely without restriction or pain. Fascia is also dynamic in nature, it responds to internal and external forces applied on it meeting the resistance in order to protect.
Research has proven that fascia, like muscle, has the ability to contract and relax and plays a major role in mobility and stability of joints. Fascia acts as a tensegrity (tension and integrity) model where tension and resistance rely on each other for stability and function.
Following all physical and emotional trauma and through poor posture, fascia scars and hardens in the affected site and along the tension lines imposed on it. This causes the fascial network to lose its cushioning mechanism and internal structures become pulled out of alignment. This in turn creates an abnormal pressure, up to 2,000 pounds (Katake 1961) per square inch, crushing nerves, blood and lymphatic vessels and further creating tension on adjacent pain-sensitive structures and those along the fascial pull.
Fascial restrictions do not show up on CAT scans, MRI’s or X Rays therefore many patients are suffering unresolved physical and emotional pain due to undiagnosed fascial trauma. Conditions are a label for a symptom. Traditional healthcare treats the symptom, MFR with it’s whole body approach treats the cause at the deepest level.
Myofascial Release Therapy, like many alternative therapies, promotes the philosophy that the mind and body work together to maintain health. Effectively this supports the understanding that the mind and body are one and the same. The body has the ability to remember postural positions, actions and emotions without the brain reminding it to do so. Throughout the body’s fascial system flow microscopic cells containing energy which have the ability to retain memory.
Therapists are taught to feel and stretch slowly into the fascial network. Collagen means glue producer so therapists are taught to feel for this glue like texture which when dense, thick or hard defines a fascial restriction. The MFR technique is very different to that of massaging muscles, tendons and the ligaments of the body. A time component also exists, coupled with the fluidity of the therapists hands in applying pressure and moving though each and every fascial restriction. The time element is a vital factor, the fascia cannot be forced as it will naturally meet that force in return. Hence the MFR therapist provides a sustained, gentle, pressure for five to eight minutes allowing the fascia to elongate naturally and return to it’s normal resting length restoring health and providing results that are both measurable and functional.
The MFR therapist not only takes in to consideration what they see in the patient’s postural assessment but works directly with what they feel and sense from palpating and treating the body.
Once we understand the nature of the fascial network, how it functions and how fascial dysfunction can affect the entire structure, we can begin to understand how symptoms, pain, imbalance and dysfunction develop. In many cases, traditional healthcare focuses on the symptom and where the pain is, then labels the dysfunction. For many people this does not offer an effective solution.
Even though the patient may not feel much happening the experienced therapist can actually feel the fascial restrictions, where they go to and subsequently feels the release of those restrictions during the session.
MFR UK has trained both physiotherapists and complementary health therapists throughout the UK with MFR being the most sought after therapy to learn in the past 3-4 years. In the USA, MFR is readily accepted as a valuable tool in rehabilitative care both in traditional healthcare practices, hospitals, GP surgeries as well as in complementary health practices.
For the Sports Person, Athlete and Performer
The professional and amateur sports persons or athlete can suffer from a myriad of injuries, stresses and strains.
These professionals require to maintain flexibility, power and strength as well as improve fitness as a prophylactic against injury. These people may wish to incorporate MFR into their regular training schedule.
Those in the performing arts have to maintain either, or both, a high degree of movement or strain pattern to perform a task. These people demand equally as much from their body’s as any sports person or athlete. The repetitive movements and or holding positions involved for these people create tension, strain and bracing patterns that without effective treatment will cause injury and ultimately affect their ability to perform.
Chronic Myofascial Pain Syndrome and Trigger Point Pain
Myofascial Pain Syndrome (MPS) is a painful musculoskeletal condition that is characterised by the development of myofascial trigger points.
Fibromyalgia and MPS are common diagnoses of unresolved pain and discomfort. Research and treatment of these painful conditions heighten the need for appropriate training and treatment of the myofascial system.
Many chronic pain conditions are caused by myofascial trigger points. A trigger point is a hyper irritable spot located in a taught band of skeletal muscle. When the muscle is in a state of traumatic dysfunction (poor posture, injury or inflammation) the hyper irritable trigger point will produce a local pain and also pain in a referred pattern. of Myofascial Pain and Discomfort, The Trigger Point Manual. Patients may have regional, persistent pain resulting in a decreased range of motion in the affected muscles. Palpation of the trigger point will elicit pain directly over the affected area and/or cause radiation of pain toward a zone of reference sometimes creating a local muscular twitch response. Trigger points are also common causes of headaches, jaw pain, sciatica, sinusitis and low back pain.