Myofascial Release (MFR) is a specific, specialised manual therapy which is often used for the effective treatment, and rehabilitation, of soft tissue and connective tissue aches and pains, tension and tightness.
What is myofascia?
Myofascia is a connective tissue in the body (commonly called fascia) that wraps around the body. Fascia is made of collagen and acts to stabilise, enclose and separate muscles and other internal structures. Fascia can be classified into 4 layers: Superficial, deep, visceral and parietal. The different layers have different functions and surround different parts of the body.
Fascia is flexible and is able to resist large forces placed on it, however, fascia becomes important to therapists when it becomes too stiff or too loose, or stops gliding smoothly with other structures and becomes bound down. Commonly, fascia will get tight after some kind of trauma, such as inflammation or surgery.
What does Fascia do?
Fascia was traditionally thought of in western medicine as being a passive structure, however, studies have found that fascia helps to reduce friction of muscular force and creates a moveable 'wrapping' for nerves and blood vessels as they pass through other structures. Fascia is also highly innervated, meaning it has lots of nerve endings in it mainly for sensory nerves, telling the brain how the body is moving, and responding to painful events. Fascia can respond to emotional input too.
What is Myofascial Release?
The terms 'massage' and 'myofascial release' can be found to be used in an interchangeable way by some therapists. Many therapists claim to treat using myofascial release on Trigger Points, or "knots", and will use oil/lubricant to do so through their treatments, however, true integrated myofascial release should not use any oils or creams.
One of the characteristics of good myofascial release is applying sustained pressure to the body tissues without sliding, allowing the therapist to feel deeper into the tissues as they begin to change. As we discovered earlier, not all fascia is related to the muscles and that true myofascial release treats the entire fascial system. These sustained techniques offer body wide change and tissue reorganisation as well as offer a platform for emotional release
As a cautionary note: Myofascia is a different structure from muscles. Muscles can respond well to firm, deep localised pressure but it's worth bearing in mind that excessive and aggressive deep therapy work from an unskilled therapist or the use of therapy tools by an individual into tissues may potentially create more restriction from scarring and inflammation and damage the more fragile tissues.
Sounds good! Where can I find a myofascial therapist?
Nene Valley Osteopathy! We have many years' experience in using a wide range of myofascial release techniques, from direct style trigger point therapy to the exceptionally gentle sustained, slow release holds discussed earlier.
We have undertaken extensive training in myofascial release both through undergraduate training as osteopaths, and latterly from postgraduate training continuous professional development courses. We will happily discuss your individual needs in a safe, confidential environment. Please do contact us for further information.