Myofascial release therapy – release fascia and move better!
This is a gentle treatment that creates profound changes. Unlike massage, there is no oil or lotion used and there is no active movement across the muscle tissue by the therapist. You will feel movement as the fascia in your body releases, unwinds and lets go. The therapist’s job is to facilitate.
The name reflects the fascia (or band), surrounding the myo- (muscle fibres) throughout the body. By applying gentle pressure and heat from the hands, the therapist creates a change in the fascia which allows it to release, taking away the tension around the muscles to restore balance and wellbeing.
What is fascia
Fascia is being talked about everywhere these days because it’s now understood to react to every injury and trauma we experience, throughout our life. It does this because it is a single web that allows a gel-like fluid to flow through ever-changing, strong, elastic fibres, that envelope every structure in the body, just like a complex 3D spider’s web.
Fascia is what gives us our ‘bounce’, with an incredible ability to absorb physical impact and adapt to chemical change. It has many functions, protecting our organs, enabling us to move and communicating pain. When we ask too much of it, we have surgery or an accident, or it’s subjected to long-term stress, it starts to lock down and gets restricted. This makes it more susceptible to injury and less able to cope with the next stress that comes along. Eventually this leads to new injury and pain, including chronic conditions that make the body even less able to cope. The impact of slipping off a kerb might be the final straw for a fascial restriction in your shoulder after years of restricted posture at a desk job.
The good news is that the fascial network can also open up and release. If you do yoga you’ll know this feeling—when your body breathes and lets go, deeper into a posture.
How myofascial release works
Myofascial release is a hands-on therapy. The fascia responds to gentle, sustained pressure by softening and releasing; each release can take several minutes. There’s no sudden manipulation, no stripping out of the muscles, and the physics of how fascia works mean that the effect is surprisingly deep and long lasting. It is also very safe. I have trained under Ruth Duncan of MFR UK who completed her postgraduate training with John F Barnes, the world’s leading authority on myofascial release.
Click here for a great article from What Doctors Don’t Tell You magazine which talks particularly about the effect MFR can have on fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue and scarring. You might also be interested in my blog post on the relationship between fascia and chronic pain.
And I’m sure I’ll be writing more on this page – do come back.
In the meantime, here’s a video about fascia and a grapefruit…. if you can’t spare the full 6-and-a-half minutes, at least hold out for 2, it really is worth it.