How does Myofascial Release fit into getting you pain-free? It centers around the most ignored system in your body…


The Fascial System

  • Fascia (also called connective tissue) is a web-like tissue tied to our muscles. Our bones. Our nerves. Our organs. All the way down to every individual cell inside us. All the space that isn’t occupied by the rest of our body parts is occupied by fascia. 
  • From the functional point of view, the fascia is like a continuous laminated sheet of connective tissue that extends without interruption from the top of the head to the tip of the toes.
  • Fascia is composed of 2 types of fibers, and ground substance: A) Collagenous fibers, which are very tough and have little stretchability B) Elastic fibers, which are stretchable. C) Ground substance, is a gel-like fluid that lubricates everything.
  • It has been estimated that fascia has a tensile strength of as much as 2000 pounds per square inch.
Fascia

Injured Fascia Is Like a Strait Jacket

Illustration of person with fascial restrictions

Myofascial restrictions do not show up on any of the standard tests (x-rays, CAT scans, MRI’s etc) so these myofascial restrictions have been ignored or misdiagnosed. Because fascia permeates all regions of the body and is all interconnected, when scars harden in one area (following injury, inflammation, disease, surgery, etc.) it can put tension on adjacent pain-sensitive structures as well as on structures in far-away areas. Some patients have bizarre pain symptoms that appear to be unrelated to the original or primary complaint. These bizarre symptoms can now often be understood in relationship to our understanding of the fascial system.


Anatomy of Fascia

The majority of the fascia of the body is oriented vertically. There are, however, four major planes of fascia in the body that are oriented in more of a crosswise (or transverse) plane. These four transverse planes are extremely dense. They are called the pelvic floor, respiratory diaphragm, thoracic inlet and cranial base. Frequently, all four of these transverse planes will become restricted when fascial adhesions occur in just about any part of the body. This is because this fascia of the body is all interconnected, and a restriction in one region can theoretically put a “drag” on the fascia in any other direction, like the yarn in a sweater. If the sweater is pulled down in the front, it tightens around the neck, but the neck is not the source of the problem; so with the fascial system, but in a three dimensional sense.

A sweater being snagged

Treating Fascial Restrictions

The point of all the above information is to help you understand that during myofascial release treatments, you may be treated in areas that you may not think are related to your condition. The trained therapist has a thorough understanding of the fascial system and will “release” the fascia in areas that he/she knows have a strong “drag” on your area of injury. This is, therefore, a whole body approach to treatment.

Muscle provides the greatest bulk of our body’s soft tissue. Because all muscle is enveloped by and ingrained with fascia, myofascial release is the term that has been given to the techniques that are used to relieve soft tissue from the abnormal grip of tight fascia (“myo” means “Muscle”). The type of myofascial release technique given by the therapist will depend upon where in your body the therapist finds the fascia restricted.

The therapist needs to have “skin to skin” contact to effectively grab the fascial restriction and help it release. Therefore, avoid lotions, creams, or oils prior to the MFR session. The client should be “comfortably undressed”, wearing, for example a two piece bathing suit, bra or gym shorts and sports bra / tank top.

Myofascial Release treatment sessions are often extremely relaxing. There may or may not be conversation with the therapist; however the therapist encourages the patient to be present and aware of sensations within their body. Feedback from the patient to the therapist regarding what they are feeling helps the therapist to be as effective as possible.

Ready to take control of your healing?