What is Myofascial Release
Myofascial release (MFR) is the application of pressure by the MFR therapist to the restricted fascial region in order to acquire the desired release. By applying sustained pressure, the therapist creates an electric charge (piezoelectric effect) that helps turn the ground substance which binds our fascia into a more viscous, slippery substance which allows the fascia to release. The amount of pressure varies between patients, types of injuries, and regions of the body. There are two basic treatment techniques used in MFR: direct and indirect, or a combination of both. Direct myofascial release is when the therapist slowly slides his or her hand across the skin, while engaging the fascia, with a specific amount of pressure. With indirect myofascial release the therapist engages the fascia with a specific amount of pressure and waits for a fascial release to occur. They may wait 30 seconds or 20 plus minutes depending on the restriction itself. Both these myofascial release techniques work well, and are used based on the therapist’s judgment of what is necessary to help heal the individual receiving the treatment.
Why have Myofascial Release treatments?
Myofascial release is a therapy that addresses fascial restrictions, which affect your posture. If we ignore our postural misalignments and fascial restrictions they can often lead to myofascial pain dysfunctions (soft tissue pain). Our posture can be changed, literally, by our fascial restrictions. The good news is that myofascial release therapy can positively change problems associated with fascial restrictions. Even better, the results often last longer or even indefinitely compared to other soft tissue treatments.
Further to postural problems, MFR also works to help re-hydrate fascia which will allow the body to be generally less stiff. In essence MFR can help the body to function at a higher level, whether you are someone suffering from constant stiffness and soreness, or a high level athlete looking to improve performance. Imagine how much better your body will feel or perform if your posture is properly aligned and the fascia is better hydrated? If you haven't tried myofascial release as a way to improve overall body health or recover from injuries, you will be pleasantly surprised at how successful if may be for you.
Why receive Myofascial Release at Centre for Soft Tissue Pain?
When searching for a myofascial release therapist it is important to note that experience and education are very important when treating injuries and postural imbalances. Our three MFR therapists, Nadine Samila, Denny Paccagnan and Ruth Major have been practicing massage therapy for 15 16 and 15 years respectively. All three have been practicing MFR since 1998 and have plenty of experience treating disorders related to fascial restrictions. In addition, our newer therapists, Saskia Mackay and Marc Achtemichuk (Alexander) have recently trained in MFR and have been utilizing their training for over a year. Each therapist has had fantastic success using MFR as a form of treatment and all of our therapists are up to date on all the latest MFR education. As a result of their dedication to myofascial release excellence, Nadine, Denny and Ruth continue to receive numerous referrals from current and past clients.
What is Fascia?
Often times we are asked by clients to explain what exactly is “fascia”. The simple answer is that it is connective tissue. Yet this answer does not convey anything to the average, non-medically trained person. Dorland’s Medical Dictionary defines fascia as a sheet or band of fibrous tissue that lies deep to the skin and envelops muscles and various body organs. Furthermore, health care practitioners have described fascia numerous ways. Most practitioners would describe it as a three-dimensional body suit or a web suit. To make it easier to understand, think of it as a dive suit from head to toe that is filled with a spider web like material three dimensionally.
What happens when Fascia becomes restricted?
Now imagine that the suit has tightened up in either the whole body or certain regions of the body due to dehydration, injury, illness, poor posture, etc. This often leads to debilitating fascial restrictions and pain not only where the restrictions are located but also in regions away from where the restrictions are located. For example, imagine if someone fractures their ribs when they are fifteen years of age. Normally this type of injury takes six or more weeks to heal itself, so by the time a couple of months pass this individual will feel almost normal...except for the "minor" stiffness they continue to experience. The post injury stiffness is in part due to the restricted fascia as a result of the fractured ribs. In other words, the fascia around the fractured region, in this case the ribs, has become restricted. A few years later when this individual is older, her shoulder begins to hurt even though she has never injured it. Why?
The myofascial release therapist would know her shoulder may be sore in large part due to her old rib injury. If you are not sure what we mean, do this simple exercise. With your left hand pull down on the front, lower right side of your shirt or top, now lift your right arm up above your shoulder. Do you feel how your right shoulder and arm are restricted due to your left hand pulling down on your top? Remember that the fascia would be pulling down towards her ribs due to the fascial restriction around the "old" fractured rib injury. Therefore applying therapy to her problematic shoulder would not be wholly beneficial. By only treating the shoulder we are not correcting the source of the problem that, in this example, is stemming from restrictions around her old rib injury. Myofascial release treatment of the affected rib region would benefit the affected ribs and the problematic and painful shoulder.
In order to understand this fascial tissue, one must realize its vast potential. Fascia gives an individual his or her body's shape or form. It would be like the material of a tent, whereby our bones would be the tent poles. Without fascia (connective tissue) our bodies would collapse down on to the floor. Moreover, it holds our organs in place, provides us with the ability to have a functioning structure and assists us in healing injuries by depositing collagen fibers to form scar tissue (Barnes, p. 4-5). It has the ability to hold up to 2000 pounds per square inch, which means it is very, very strong. If you have some fascial restrictions you can bet that it will affect your body's posture and its ability to freely move. It is this poor posture via the restricted fascia that often causes the pain and stiffness we experience.
Restrictions in the fascia due to injury or illness also may lead to poor circulation in an area. The poor circulation means that the tissues may not be getting the proper nutrients needed for successful healing. The binding down and compression of connective tissue may strangulate nerves and blood vessels, which often leads to increased pain and other musculoskeletal dysfunctions.