by Graham Breault, RMT
Myofascial Release dates back to the 1940’s, but the term was created in 1981. Since then it has become a very popular treatment modality for both athletes and active individuals looking to increase their overall mobility.
In recent years athletes and everyday individuals have been using foam rollers or a type of a roller massage; such as a tennis ball or lacrosse ball, in order to increase or maintain the joint range of motion (ROM) and to help decrease the delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) after an intense exercise.
Emily Day from the USA Volleyball’s Beach National Team has a great set of 7 different foam rolling exercises and 2 different ball exercises that are great for a pre or post workout or for general muscle maintenance.
What is Myo and what is Fascia?
Myo means muscle in Greek and Fascia is the connective tissue (elastin, collagen) that surrounds and protects every other tissue, tendon, muscle, bone, ligament and organ of the body. It is essentially a 3D continuous web for the body.
Fascial restrictions do not show up on CAT scans, MRI’s or X-Ray. Research has proven that fascia, similar to muscle, can contract and relax. Fascia acts as a tensegrity (tensional integrity) model where tension and resistance need one another for stability and function.
Fascia does not stretch nor does it soften like muscle, but instead it requires a slower and a more focused approach. Because of this, myofascial pain can be difficult to identify. When identified it is often treated with manual therapy techniques such as myofascial release (MFR).
Myofascial Release Techniques
There are many different types of deep and superficial MFR techniques that are used to mobilize and release the adhesive tissues. Both direct (against tissue resistance) and indirect (in the direction of the least tissue resistance) MFR techniques are performed as the patient remains passive. Minimal pressure is applied to the tissue and it can be be applied in one direction or multiple depending on the restriction of the tissue.
Other MFR techniques can be active treatments; such as: Active Myofascial Release/Contractile Myofascial Release, in which the patient uses contraction of the muscle while the therapist mobilizes the adhesive tissue.
There is no oil or lotion that is used during these techniques but a hot pack or heating blanket is used pretreatment in order to provide the tissue with more blood circulation. Other techniques include J-stoking, Bear Claw, cross hand/finger shear, skin-rolling of superficial tissues, or picking-up and bowing of the deeper adhesive tissue.
What are the Benefits?
MFR is effective for treating myofascial pain syndrome (pain that originates from specific points within the fascial tissues called “trigger points”), orthopaedic conditions (fibromyalgia, arthritis, fractures) and repetitive strain conditions, such as: plantar fasciitis, lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow) and medial epicondylitis (golfer’s elbow) and carpal tunnel syndrome.
Myofascial Release promotes the idea that the mind and the body work together. Whether you have superficial pain, deeper pain within a muscle or joint, or cellular dysfunction, MFR can offer some benefit.
Graham Breault is a Registered Massage Therapist at Rocky Point Wellness Clinic. Graham sees patients Tuesday through Saturday and offers both daytime and evening appointments. To learn more about Graham, click here.