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What is myofascial release?
Massage therapy is a form of hands-on treatments which has its roots over 3000 years ago. Myofascial release is one of the over 80 different types of massage therapy and a very effective hands-on technique that sustained pressure into the myofascial restrictions of the muscle to eliminate pain and restore motion.
What is fascia?
The theory behind myofascial release requires an understanding of the connective tissue beneath the skin. This connective tissue is called fascia and is a specialised system that appears like a spider’s web. Fascia is densely woven and covers every muscle, bone, nerve, artery and vein. One of the most interesting factors is that it is not a system of separate covering but actually one structure from head to toe without interruption.
This fascia also plays a vital role in supporting the body because it surrounds and attaches to all structures. In a normal healthy state, the fascia is relaxed and can stretch and move without restriction. However, when we experience physical trauma, inflammation or injury, it loses its flexibility and becomes tight and a source of tension to the rest of the body. Traumas such as whiplash or surgery or even habitual poor posture over time have a cumulative effect. The changes they cause will influence the degree of comfort the individual will experience and the body’s ability to function appropriately.
What is myofascial release good for?
Myofascial release therapy practice requires an intense one-on-one treatment time and is more labour-intensive than traditional physical therapy treatments. It can be very effective in treating:
- Back strain or chronic back pain
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Cervical pain
- Complex pain complaints
- Fibrous cystitis
- Plantar fasciitis.
Because of this treatment, myofascial release has become more and more prominent with athletes and fitness buffs. Myofascial release has become a common treatment in complementary and alternative medicine practices. The use of massage to reduce chronic pain and rehabilitate a range of various injuries leads to the prescription of myofascial release therapy for individuals who suffer from many sports injuries (ARTICLE 21).
What to expect from myofascial release therapy?
The therapist who works with the myofascial release will address not only the fascia but also trigger points which have been identified as areas of muscle that are painful to palpation and present with tension and tautness. This muscle can be accompanied by inflammation with inelastic scar tissue. Some sports physicians speculate that trigger points can lead to various sports injuries such as tendon tears or muscle pulls.
According to individuals who practice myofascial release, trigger points can also restrict or alter the motion in a joint which can change the normal feedback to the central nervous system. It usually results in a less efficient motor skill performance which is an athlete’s worst nightmare. Therapists believe that an acute physical trauma, poor posture or movement mechanics, overtraining, or inadequate rest between training sessions can cause a trigger point to form.
Although myofascial release exercises should be taught by a physical therapist, they are learned and can be done at home to improve the results in a rehabilitation program. Many individuals who will experience myofascial release therapy will also express almost immediate results. By using this technique, individuals can release restrictive myofascial tissue and heal completely.
Myofascial release is not specifically a form of massage therapy but rather a treatment performed by physical therapists. It is used to equalise muscle tension throughout the body which may compress nerves and cause some muscles to experience pain. The therapy’s progress is measured by a decrease in pain reported by the patient and improved overall posture.