Myofascial Release

Myofascial Release

To understand Myofascial Release and why it works, we have to understand what fascia is. Fascia is a thin connective tissue that surrounds, infuses and protects every other tissue, tendon, muscle, bone, ligament and organ of the body.  It's like Saran Wrap.  In healthy conditions the fascial system is relaxed and wavy in configuration, almost viscous in consistency. This provides a cushioning and supportive mechanism allowing us to move safely without restriction or pain. Collagen and elastin, fascia's two main components, allow it to be very strong yet have a high degree of flexibility. Fascia is also dynamic in nature, it responds to internal and external forces applied to it, meeting the resistance in order to protect.

This tissue envelops every muscle and every fiber within each muscle. All muscle stretching, then, is in fact stretching of the fascia and the muscle, the Myofascial unit.

When muscle fibers are overloaded with stress, the fascia fibers that surround the muscle become short, tight and misaligned. This uneven stress can be spread through the fascia to other parts of the body, setting off pain and a variety of symptoms in areas often not expected. Myofascial Release treats these symptoms by releasing and realigning the tightness in the contracted fascia.

Myofascial Release is the stretching, releasing and realigning of the fascia.  The therapist works on the superficial layer and then progressively goes deeper without producing pain. By releasing the fascial layers, the underlying muscles relax.  This process should feel like the tension is melting away. 

Most clients are amazed by how gentle Myofascial Release is and soon realize the discomfort associated with deep tissue massage is not necessary to effect therapeutic release of the muscles.  For some conditions, deep tissue massage is contraindicated, as in Fibromyalgia Syndrome.  Myofascial Release gives therapists another method to effectively release the tension in the fascial unit (muscle fibers with the overlaying fascia), without causing discomfort or contributing to further damage.

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Copyright © Janet Lawlor, BCTMB