Myofascial Release techniques were originally developed from the osteopathic community. Recently it has become more popular as a number of therapists have evolved and perfected the techniques allowing other practitioners to develop their practices around this form of therapy.
Brad Dow, BA, RMT
Glenn MacRae RMT, Rolf Practitioner
Because it is somewhat different from traditional massage therapy, many people ask questions such as "What is it?" and "How does it work?"
Myofascial 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, we are providing you with this article.
Fascia (also referred to as connective tissue) is a system of the body to which relatively little attention has been given in the past from the western medical establishment.
From a functional point of view, the body's fascia may be regarded as a single sheet of continuous webbing that extends without interruption from the top of the head to the tip of the toes.
Fascia surrounds and invests in every other tissue and organ of the body, including nerves, blood vessels, muscles and bones.
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.
Our 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.
A Myofascial Release Treatment is available in downtown Vancouver at Everest Therapeutics. Click Myofascial Release Treatment to go to our online calendar.