Myofascial release is a mixture of techniques and approaches that aim to free restrictions of movement that originate in the soft tissues (muscles) of the body. Myofascial release is not a technique as such but rather a goal oriented approach to working with soft tissue restrictions and their interactions with movement and posture.
Myo; means muscle in Latin
Fascia; means connective tissue
During a session your Practitioner will address how postural habits, specific repetitive movements or daily habits, such as sitting at a desk for long hours or carrying children, playing an instrument, playing sports, and so on, combined with lack of movement and compensations for prior injuries result in structural adaptation, stress and avoiding a full range movement. This can cause a shortening of soft tissue (muscular units) and adhesions between layers of fascia and pain. Myofascial pain is commonly described as a deep, dull diffuse ache.
Fascia (left). The fascia tubules are filled with fluid. Water is the medium through which all of our metabolic functions arise.
Fascia is a type of dense connective tissue that forms the continuous 3D matrix that wraps around muscles, down to individual fibres, suspending organs. It is webbing for vascular structures, nerve and lymphatic vessels. Fascia forms the passive structural definition of our bodies and is looked at, as a semi-conductive communication network in that is capable of sending nerve signals that communicate with each other throughout its network. This means that the whole body can communicate through this medium instantaneously.
Fascia can be problematic in its response to prolonged mobilisation as it adapts to the position. For example, having difficulty standing straight after sitting for long periods. This is when the fascia has conformed to a prolonged position. Nerves in peripheral tissues may become impinged by contracted muscle fibers and shortened fascia contributing to musculoskeletal pain syndromes.
The application of myofascial release techniques on adhered or shortened fascia is crucial in working with long standing pain and the musculoskeletal system will respond more efficiently as they have a direct relationship.
How do we release shortened and adhered connective tissue?
By applying slow, controlled, focused force in a specific direction, your Practitioner is able to work with the nervous system, muscular and fascial tissue to restore the fluid nature of the tissue, mobility and normal joint function. As fascial tone improves, individual muscles glide over one another as they should you will experience a distinction between compartments once again rather than a feeling of solidity. It’s important that you, as the patient, understand what is taking place. Studies have found that patients receiving Myofascial Release under general anaesthetic receive no benefits from treatments. This points to fact that we cannot effect change through manipulating fascia alone. Nervous system re-patterning is what effects the change. During your treatment, your active presence is necessary, meaning it is imperative that you are aware and present to the treatment.
The presence of trigger points within the myofascia may also be a contributing factor to the above-mentioned aberrations. It may surprise you to know that; “around 75% of pain clinic patients have a trigger point as the sole source of their pain”. This was stated by the foremost expert in the field of Trigger Point Therapy research, Doctor Janet Travell. Dr Travell spent her whole lifetime studying & researching Myofascial Trigger Points (MTrP’s) up until her passing at 95 years’ old. She was regarded the world over as the foremost expert in this field. So highly regarded, she was the White House physician over two presidencies starting with John F. Kennedy.
(guest writer: Emily)