What is Myofasical Release?
Myofasical release or MFR is an effective, hands-on therapy to treat painful, difficult and re-occurring injuries. Before we look at the techniques involved, first we should look at what the techniques are designed to treat.
Well, to start, it treats Myofascia, which is the tough, dense tissue which surrounds and covers your muscles and bones. If you look at Myofascia under a strong micro-scope, then you will see that it has a spider-web or fish net appearance and runs throughout the whole of the body, from your head to your toes, in a continuous weave. If damage is cause to a certain area of your Myofascia, it can cause an effect to another area of the body, even for years afterwards.
Other symptoms of Myofasical pain are; acute stabbing pain, headaches, muscle pain, sciatica, breathing difficulties and pins and needles.
To see for yourself a simple example of Myofascia, you can look at ac chicken breast when you remove the skin. The thin, white filmy tissue underneath the skin is the Myofascia. When it is in a living state, it is extremely strong.
What causes Myofasical Pain?
There are several causes of Myofasical pain and it can be caused by many different traumatic, emotional or stress related events. Myofasical pain is often attributed in its most common form to whiplash or poor posture and further to this, can be brought on by a number of surgical procedures. This can in turn cause the sufferer acute pain, muscle tension, and also a diminished blood flow.
Other causes of Myofasicial pain are; work related lifting or carrying injuries, lack of stretching, emotional stress or use of repetitive motions causing a strain.
The pressure used in Myofasical treatments will change depending on which treatment you are using; direct or indirect release. This pressure can range from very gentle touch to deeper pressure. The pressure from Myofascial Release therapy should never be beyond the individual tolerance of a person and it is important to give feedback to your practitioner before, during and after your treatment.
Some patients may experience a slight skin burning sensation in the skin, which is perfectly normal and safe, while others may feel a gentle to deep stretch on the area being treated.
Myofascial Release treatments generally last from 15 minutes and can extend to over an hour, depending on the severalty of the affected area. It is always performed by a qualified practitioner who has completed a study into all of the Myofasical release techniques, symptoms and causes.
The techniques of Myofascial Release therapy are specifically designed to help to re-organize and lengthen the tight tissue allowing for better movement and health to the tissue.
For a more thorough explanation of the different types of Myofasical treatments, we have also provided a detailed explanation below.
Direct Myofasical Release
The direct Myofascial release method engages the the Myofascial tissue tension issues directly. The tissue is loaded with a constant force until a release occurs. Direct release is sometimes referred to as “deep tissue work or massage”. Practitioners often use their use knuckles, elbows, or other tools to slowly stretch the fascia by applying a up to a few kilograms of direct pressure. Direct Myofascial release is an attempt to bring about changes in the Myofascial structures by stretching or elongating the fascia. The practitioner moves slowly through the layers of the fascia until the deeper tissues are reached.
The following are the principals, in order, that one should perform direct Myofasical release technique;
- Land on the surface of the body with the appropriate tool, e.g., knuckles or elbows
- Sink into the soft tissue
- Contact the first barrier or restricted layer
- Put in a line of tension
- Engage the fascia by taking up the slack in the tissue
- Finally, move or drag the fascia across the surface while staying in touch with the underlying layers
- Exit and release gracefully
In-Direct Myofasical Release
The indirect method involves a much gentler stretch, with only a few grams of force applied. Instead of stretching the Fascia, this is said to slowly unwind it and helping it find its own path of resistance until full movement is achieved.
- Lightly contact the fascia with relaxed hands and or fingers
- Slowly stretch the fascia until reaching a barrier or restriction.
- Maintain a light pressure to stretch the barrier for approximately 3–5 minutes
- Prior to release, the therapist will feel a therapeutic pulse e.g., heat
- As the barrier releases, the hand will feel the motion and softening of the fascia tissue
- The key to success here is to sustain constant pressure over time
In addition to direct and in-direct Myofasical release techniques, there is also a technique known as Active Release Technique or ART. In the process of an ART treatment, the specialist uses his or her hands to evaluate the texture, tightness and mobility of the soft tissue. Then, using hand pressure, the practitioner works to remove or break up the fibrous adhesions by using stretching motions generally in the direction of venous and lymphatic flow, although the opposite direction may also be used occasionally.
ART is a soft tissue system or movement based technique which also claims to treat problems with muscles, tendons, and ligaments as well as fascia. Unlike Myofasical release techniques, there is little evidence to support its efficiency, however the treatment is widely used by chiropractors around the world.