Myofascial Release is a manual technique used to release tension in fascia, the tough sheet of thin connective tissue that wraps around muscle. Fascia interconnects muscles, joints and even organs or bone. It runs uninterrupted head to toe. Some sort of sudden trauma or injury, posture problems, or longer term irritation/ inflammation can cause strain, winding or tension in the fascia and result in pain. Since fascia is soft tissue It is difficult to identify with standard tests such as x-ray, CT scans, EMG, etc. so many people suffer in pain without a proper diagnosis. Making the situation worse, these conditions do not respond well to traditional deep tissue massage or chiropractic.
The elasticity of fascia is particular in that it does not respond well to sudden or forceful stress or stretch. Attempts to force the body to move with such methods usually makes the conditions worse.
Proper treatment incorporates gentle pressure around the restricted areas and is held for several minutes until the fascia releases or unwinds. The pressures gentle, but sustained and uninterrupted. 4. Effective application myofascial release can only be performed an dry skin. Oils and creams will force the contact to slide and prohibit properly maintaining the prolonged tension for the duration needed.
Intuitive interaction between therapist and patient is important. Many times, especially in chronic conditions, there is an emotional overlay or manifestation to the structural blockage. The non-forceful gentle touch and extra time allow that blocked energy to surface and let go. The therapist also needs to be mindfully in-tune with the hands on tissue feedback and the energy of the patient to properly time the rhythm of pressure hold and release.
The subtle force and longer application times encourage introspection and deep relaxation resulting in a rejuvenating experience without the stress and guarding withdrawal of traditional painful poky deep tissue techniques.
This method may not for everybody since some still prefer a deeper touch. If you have chronic unresolved pain, and have been through a traditional massage, chiropractic or physical therapy without results or in worse pain it is definitely worth considering. As always speak with your doctor or certified massage therapist to have a better understanding of this treatment and to determine if it is right for you.
(The above is adapted from John F Barnes, PT, LMT Myofascial release : Enhance Your Life! Publication. He has been teaching the technique for over 45 years)