Myofascial Release Therapy

As many of my clients have experienced, I offer a very deep tissue massage. I do not stick to a particular technique with massage, primarily because I listen to the body and adapt to what is required. I incorporate many techniques such as Swedish, Trigger Point Therapy, Lomi Lomi, PNF Stretching, Deep Tissue/Medical Massage, Rolfing (*note, I am NOT a certified Rolfer), and, my personal favorite, Myofascial Release Therapy, to which this particular blog will discuss. Collectively, I consider my massage to be Therapeutic Massage.

In researching sources for this article, I ran across the following article, which is really well-written, so I have copied the article below. Here is the link to the original link. Under the article, you will also find videos that demonstrate the techniques.

What Is Myofascial Release and Does It Work?
Written by Kimberly Holland | Published on January 26, 2015
Medically Reviewed by George T. Krucik, MD, MBA on January 26, 2015

What Is Myofascial Release and Does It Work?

Part 1 of 6: The Basics
What Is Myofascial Release?
Myofascial release is a type of physical therapy often used to treat myofascial pain syndrome. Myofascial pain syndrome is a chronic pain disorder caused by sensitivity and tightness in your myofascial tissues. These tissues surround and support the muscles throughout your body. The pain usually originates from specific points within your myofascial tissues called “trigger points.”

Myofascial release focuses on reducing pain by easing the tension and tightness in the trigger points. It’s not always easy to understand what trigger point is responsible for the pain. Localizing pain to a specific trigger point is very difficult. For that reason, myofascial release is often used over a broad area of muscle and tissue rather than at single points.

Part 2 of 6: How Does It Work?
How Does Myofascial Release Work?
Most myofascial release treatments take place during a massage therapy session. Some chiropractors and traditional medical practitioners may also offer it.

Your therapist will gently massage the myofascia and feel for stiff or tightened areas. Normal myofascia should feel pliable and elastic. The therapist will begin massaging and stretching the areas that feel rigid with light manual pressure. The therapist then aids the tissue and supportive sheath in releasing pressure and tightness. The process is repeated multiple times on the same trigger point and on other trigger points until the therapist feels the tension is fully released.

These areas where the massage therapist is working may not be near where the pain originates or where you feel the pain most prominently. Myofascial release works the broader network of muscles that might be causing your pain. It tries to reduce tension throughout your body by releasing trigger points across a broad section of your muscular system.

Part 3 of 6: Who It Helps
Who Might Benefit From Myofascial Release?
Patients with myofascial pain syndrome frequently benefit from this type of therapy. People who experience chronic headaches may also find relief from myofascial release. Gently massaging on tightened muscles in and around the neck and head may reduce headaches.

Some people with venous insufficiency, which occurs when blood pools in the deep veins of the leg, may also be candidates for myofascial release. During venous insufficiency, the blood pool stretches and eventually damages the veins in your legs. You may experience an aching and painful sensation in the affected leg. Myofascial release might be used in conjunction with other treatments to reduce the pooling and pain caused by venous insufficiency.

Part 4 of 6: Risks
What Are the Risks of Myofascial Release?
Myofascial release by massage therapy has very few risks. Whether you’re trying to relax or aiming to ease back pain, massage therapy may be beneficial for pain reduction.

However, massage isn’t ideal for people:

  • with burns, injuries, or painful wounds 
  • with fractures or broken bones
  • with fragile or weak bones
  • with deep vein thrombosis or deep vein issues
  • taking blood-thinning medications

In very rare cases, massage therapy may cause:

  • internal bleeding
  • temporary paralysis or difficulty moving your muscles
  • allergic reaction to oils, gels, or lotions
  • nerve damage

Part 5 of 6: The Science
Does Science Support Myofascial Release?
Most studies look at massage and chiropractic manipulation. However, there are few studies that look at myofascial release specifically. This is because therapy styles differ from practitioner to practitioner. This means broad medical support is difficult to come by. Doctors may be more apt to recommend more traditional treatments.

Still, because of the relative lack of risk, many patients with chronic or even short-term back pain may be interested in trying it to see if the therapy provides any relief. This is especially true if you’re trying to avoid surgery.

Part 6 of 6: Consult Your Doctor
Consult a Massage Therapist and Your Doctor
Speak with your doctor or physical therapist if you’re interested in trying myofascial release. You may have great success with this type of alternative back pain treatment. However, you need to be aware of the risks and potential dangers as you would with any type of medical treatment.

Many thanks to Healthline for the article above.

As you read, Myofascial Release Therapy is a fabulous tool for licensed massage therapists to assist in releasing trigger points, and increasing flexibility. I have also included some videos below. These videos demonstrate Myofascial Release Therapy for various body parts. You will notice that there is very little movement in the way of massage strokes. Instead, a deep pressure is exerted, and this allows the body to relax, the connective tissue to soften and elongate.

Myofascial Pain Syndrome: This video offers a wonderful explanation of what causes "Trigger Points" and various treatments available to help.

This particular video includes interviews with the massage subject describing their feelings post-session.

Here is a video of John F. Barnes, PT demonstrating self-myofascial release, and how your licensed massage therapist can assist in areas that have restrictions. The quality is a little jumpy, but it is great information, and wonderful for you to try on your own if you are feeling restricted in your body movements.

For those of you that have experienced a deep tissue massage with me, you may recognize a few of these techniques. Though I am not a certified Rolfer, I do incorporate elements into my massage for areas of restriction. These videos are an excellent introduction to Rolfing.

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