Myofascial Release is a safe and very effective hands-on technique that involves applying gentle sustained pressure into the Myofascial connective tissue restrictions to eliminate pain and restore motion.
This self-massage technique is said to help:
- Reduce pain.
- Break up knots and release trigger points.
- Improve movement and flexibility.
- Improve muscle function.
- Enhance circulation by breaking up the tight areas where blood flow may become restricted.
- Reduce exercise-related soreness.
- Improve your range of motion.
- Reduce soreness and help assist the tissue recovery process.
- Help the body relax overall.
- Improve circulation.
- Release tension, knots, and even stress.
What is Self Myofascial Release or Foam Rolling
Self-Myofascial Release (SMR) or foam rolling is a type of soft tissue therapy that focuses on the nerves and connective tissues. Our body is a kinetic chain, which works as an integrated functional unit. It exists interdependently. If one joint is not working efficiently, then the other joint will compensate, which will lead to muscle imbalances, tissue overload, fatigue, and injuries. Let’s say that you want to perform a squat, but your hamstrings are tight which restricts the range of motion. Because of the muscle restrictions, joint motion is compensated, thus sending wrong signals to our Central Nervous System (CNS), which might lead to imbalances, injuries, and the like.
According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), here are some benefits of Self Myofascial Release:
1. Corrects Muscle Imbalances
SMR helps our muscles relax and at the same time provides optimal length-tension relationship, which helps avoid muscle restrictions when we perform an exercise, so it will give positive feedback to our CNS.
2. Improves Joint Range of Motion
SMR can basically break the knots (which restrict our range of motion) in our muscles, which can help us use our full range of motion.
3. Relieves Muscle Soreness and Joint Stress
SMR speeds up recovery because of better blood circulation in the body.
4. Improves Neuromuscular Efficiency
SMR is good for blood circulation hence, it also provides better oxygenation in our muscles.
5. Relaxes our Muscles
Foam rolling helps our muscles relax by activation of sensory receptors connecting our muscle fibers to our tendons.
6. Provides Optimal Length-Tension relationships
Foam rolling lengthens your muscles and breaks up adhesion and scar tissues.
What Is Fascia?
Connective tissues called fascia to surround our muscles and envelop our entire bodies. Fasciae also play a key role in regulating our immune systems. However, inflammation, fibrosis, and thickening of our fascia can limit our range of motion and cause pain. Injuries, inflammations, and surgeries can restrict fascia and create many health problems. For example, fascial restrictions can put up to 2,000 pounds per square inch (psi) on sensitive internal organs and structures, causing great pain. Additionally, fascial restrictions don’t show up on most body scans (x-rays, CAT scans, etc.).
The Health Benefits of Myofascial Release
Myofascial release can help soothe the symptoms of:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder
- Muscle and joint pain
- Migraine headaches
- Back pain
- Injuries due to poor shoulder or hip alignment
Myofascial release therapy eliminates pain caused by muscles or other connective tissues that are “tied down” by tight fascia. Also, damaged fascial tissue can contribute to pain at “trigger points” that restrict blood flow to nearby areas, causing the damage to spread.
Some undergo myofascial release treatments to achieve better muscular and skeletal alignment before surgery. Others use it to increase their sports performance.
What Can You Expect from Your First Myofascial Release Session?
Myofascial release and massage therapy sessions are, in some ways, similar. Practitioners of both techniques use their hands to directly manipulate their clients’ soft tissues. However, myofascial release therapists typically use less pressure than massage therapists, and over a longer period of time. While massage therapists use firm pressure to push toxins out of muscles and create flexibility in soft tissues, myofascial release practitioners use light pressure to elongate fascial tissues and release myofascial restrictions.
Before a session, the practitioner will probably measure the body’s range of motion and body symmetry to identify potential areas of fascial restriction. Myofascial release practitioners will probably not use the oils or creams many massage therapists employ. They need direct skin-on-skin contact to detect and release your myofascial restrictions. Your therapist needs to feel the tight points at which your fasciae are stuck or “anchored.” These restrictions may not be at your pain points; they often pull on nearby body parts, creating pain. Remember: collagen, which makes up fascia, is stronger than steel cable and can transmit pressures of up to 2,000 psi.
Expect myofascial release sessions to be at least 30 minutes long, but some practitioners recommend an hour or more for the greatest benefit. People often undergo myofascial release daily (or every few days). A standard course of treatment can last weeks or months.
Using Myofascial Release for Self-Care
Because of the many benefits, it can provide to keep people healthy and moving, regularly scheduled myofascial release sessions with a qualified practitioner can be great for self-care. Additionally, many myofascial release practitioners are able to send a person home with some helpful techniques for self-care. If you intend to use myofascial release at home, please consult with a practitioner for safety information specific to your goals, conditions, and environment.
Some athletes use foam rollers, tennis and lacrosse balls, and even PVC pipes to “smash,” “roll,” and “break up scar tissue.” These forms of self-myofascial release can soothe pain, reduce tension, and increase flexibility. Regardless of the tool you choose, be sure it has a “ribbed” or “tread-like” surface that grabs your skin so it can move against underlying tissues.
First, try a simple myofascial release self-care technique: let your body relax (especially the target area) onto your roller/ball. Keep your skin firmly in contact with your roller/ball, and feel the underlying tissues moving against each other as you shift your body weight. For this exercise, just apply a little pressure in the direction of your tension point and wait.
When conducting myofascial release techniques on yourself, remember one rule: be patient. It can take 30 seconds to a few minutes to trigger a fascial release. If you’re using a roller or a ball, don’t just roll around on it. Take the time to locate your tight spots and give yourself the time you need to create space in your soft tissues.
You can also include movement in your myofascial self-care. Once you’ve achieved a good connection between your skin and your roller/ball, use your body weight to press a little into your target area. Then, move a related limb (bend at the knee if you’re working on your quads, for example) and feel the sensation created when your muscles move and work the tissues between them and your roller/ball.
Be sure to test the affected area by moving it before and after your self-myofascial release. You’ll know you’ve created positive change if you feel:
- Reduced pain
- Increased ease of motion
- Greater range of motion
- Less inflammation
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Myofascial release (MFR, self-myofascial release) is an alternative medicine therapy that claims to treat skeletal muscle immobility and pain by relaxing contracted muscles, improving blood and lymphatic circulation, and stimulating the stretch reflex in muscles.
Fascia is a thin, tough, elastic type of connective tissue that wraps most structures within the human body, including muscle. Fascia supports and protects these structures. Osteopathic theory proposes that this soft tissue can become restricted due to psychogenic disease, overuse, trauma, infectious agents, or inactivity, often resulting in pain, muscle tension, and corresponding diminished blood flow.
The American Cancer Society states that “There is little scientific evidence available to support proponents’ claims that myofascial release relieves pain or restores flexibility” and caution against using it as a substitute for conventional cancer treatment. The poor quality of research into the use of myofascial release for orthopedic conditions precludes any conclusions being drawn about its usefulness for this purpose.
In 2011, the UK Advertising Standards Authority upheld a complaint regarding the effectiveness claims published in an advertising leaflet produced by the Myofascial Release UK health care service. The ASA Council ruled that materials presented by Myofascial Release UK in support of the claims made in their ad were inadequate to establish a “body of robust scientific evidence” to substantiate Myofascial Release UK’s range of claims. In addition, the ASA determined that the ad breached advertising rules by introducing a risk that readers might be discouraged from seeking other essential medical treatments.
Reviews published in 2013 and 2015 evaluating evidence for MFR efficacy found that clinical trials that had been conducted varied in quality, technique, outcome measurements, and had mixed outcomes; the 2015 review noted: “it is time for scientific evidence [sic] on MFR to support its clinical use.” Another review concluded that the use of foam rollers or a roller massager before or after exercise for self-myofascial release appears to be helpful with regard to the range of motion and soreness, but the optimal timing and duration of use require further study.
The approach was promulgated as an alternative medicine concept by Andrew Taylor Still, inventor of osteopathy, and his early students.[ The exact phrase “myofascial release” was coined in the 1960s by Robert Ward, an osteopath who studied with Ida Rolf, the originator of Rolfing. Ward, along with physical therapist John Barnes, are considered the two primary founders of Myofascial Release.
What is the John F. Barnes’ Myofascial Release Approach?
John F. Barnes’ Myofascial Release Approach is considered to be the ultimate therapy that is safe, gentle and consistently effective in producing results that last. John F. Barnes, PT has trained over 100,000 therapists and physicians, is an international lecturer, author, and authority on Myofascial Release. He is a physical therapist and is considered to be a visionary and teacher of the highest caliber.
Trauma, inflammatory responses, and/or surgical procedures create Myofascial restrictions that can produce tensile pressures of approximately 2,000 pounds per square inch on pain-sensitive structures that do not show up in many of the standard tests (x-rays, myelograms, CAT scans, electromyography, etc.)
The medical approach is to drug patients so they temporarily are free from pain, but does nothing about the “straight-jacket” of pressure that is causing the pain. Traditional physical, occupational, and massage therapy treats the symptoms caused by the pressure of the “straightjacket” of the Myofascial system but does nothing about the “straightjacket” of pressure that causes and perpetuates the symptoms. This is why so many patients only have temporary results never seem to get better with traditional therapy. Only Myofascial Release treats the entire Myofascial mind/body complex eliminating the pressure of the restricted Myofascial system (the straightjacket) that causes the symptoms.
The Goal is to Help you Return to a Pain-Free, Active Lifestyle!
- Back Pain
- Pelvic Pain
- Neck Pain
- Sports Injuries
- Chronic Pain
- Disc Problems
- Pelvic Floor Dysfunction
- Neurological Dysfunction
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Carpal Tunnel
- Jaw Pain (TMJ)
- Painful Scars
What is DIRECT MYOFASCIAL RELEASE
The direct myofascial release (or deep tissue work) method works through engaging the myofascial tissue restrictive barrier, the tissue is loaded with a constant force until tissue release occurs. Practitioners use knuckles, elbows, or other tools to slowly stretch the restricted fascia by applying a few kilograms-force or tens of newtons. Direct myofascial release seeks changes in the myofascial structures by stretching, elongation of fascia, or mobilizing adhesive tissues. The practitioner moves slowly through the layers of the fascia until the deep tissues are reached.
Robert Ward, D.O. suggested that the intermolecular forces direct method came from the osteopathy school in the 1920s by William Neidner, at which point it was called “fascial twist”. German physiotherapist Elizabeth Dicke developed Connective Tissue Massage (Bindegewebsmassage) in the 1920s, which involved superficial stretching of the myofascial. Dr. Ida Rolf developed structural integration in the 1950s, a holistic system of soft tissue manipulation and movement education based on yoga, osteopathic manipulation, and the movement schools of the early part of the twentieth century, with the goal of balancing the body by stretching the skin in oscillatory patterns. She discovered that she could improve a patient’s body posture and structure by bringing the myofascial system back toward its normal pattern. Since Rolf’s death in 1979, various structural integration schools have adopted and evolved her theory and methods.
Different practitioners bring their own sensibility, style, level of maturity, and awareness to their work with clients which can have a significant effect on the client’s experience.
What is INDIRECT MYOFASCIAL RELEASE
The indirect method involves a gentle stretch, with only a few grams of pressure, which allows the fascia to ‘unwind’ itself. The dysfunctional tissues are guided along the path of least resistance until free movement is achieved. The gentle traction applied to the restricted fascia will result in heat and increased blood flow in the area. This allows the body’s inherent ability for self-correction to return, thus eliminating pain and restoring the optimum performance of the body.
The indirect technique originated in osteopathy schools and is also popular in physiotherapy. According to Robert C. Ward, myofascial release originated from the concept by Andrew Taylor Still the founder of osteopathic medicine in the late 19th century. The concepts and techniques were subsequently developed by his successor. Robert Ward further suggested that the term Myofascial Release as a technique was coined in 1981 when it was used as a course title at Michigan State University. It was popularized and taught to physical therapists, massage therapists, occupational therapists, and physicians by John F. Barnes, PT, LMT, NCTMB through his Myofascial Release Approach® (MFR) seminar series.
*Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition. The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a diagnosis, treatment, or prescription of any kind. The decision to use, or not to use, any information is the sole responsibility of the reader. These statements are not expressions of legal opinion relative to the scope of practice, medical diagnosis, or medical advice, nor do they represent an endorsement of any product, company, or specific massage therapy technique, modality, or approach. All trademarks, registered trademarks, brand names, registered brand names, logos, and company logos referenced in this post are the property of their owners.