Myofascial Release: Nature To Nurture Techniques
Myofascial Release is one of Nature To Nurture’s list of massage treatments– including:
- Soft Tissue
- Deep Tissue
- Trigger Point Therapy
- Neuromuscular Techniques
- Myofascial Release
- Pregnancy & Full Abdominal
- Facial Rejuvenation/Natural Facelift
- Indian Head Massage & Indian Champissage
What exactly is the difference between all of these massage techniques? How can they help with pain or stiffness? Which one is best for you?
I see an increasing number of clients with muscular aches, pain, stiffness & lack of movement. This can be due to many factors: lack of exercise; lack of general mobility due to illness or injury; over-exercise & not allowing muscles to properly relax; long working hours; desk-based work (causing the classic C-shaped hunching spine); long hours of driving, travelling or commuting; stress, anxiety & emotionally-held tension, or simply a sedentary lifestyle. Whatever the cause there are many different massage techniques which I can offer to help you & I often choose to combine them. I have therefore decided to compile a series of small articles letting you know about each kind of massage technique & method I have trained in.
The fifth of these will be about the clinical massage technique Myofascial Release. As usual please click on anything highlighted in green, which will take you to a weblink.
Myofascial Release – In A Nutshell
Talk to people about massage therapy & they will usually describe it as the use of strokes & pressures to release muscular aches, tension & stiffness – it’s a therapy that appears to be focussed on the muscles & muscular system.
‘Fascia: a band or sheet of connective tissue, beneath the skin that attaches, stabilizes, encloses, & separates muscles & other internal organs‘
However, a basic understanding of the way the body works tells you that it isn’t just the skeletal system of bones, connected to muscles by tendons & ligaments, that is at work here. Something else is holding everything in place within the body: connective tissue called fascia.
Any kind of physical or emotional trauma – an accident, surgery, injury, poor posture or repetitive movement or strain can result in the fascia becoming restricted, congested & contracted – in an ever-decreasing circle where a client becomes less & less mobile.
Fascia helps to both keep everything in place & to move more effectively
In the past fascia was often overlooked – bodyworkers focussed upon using deep pressures to the muscles & their adhesions or ‘knots’, without considering that muscles were surrounded by fascia in the first instance & that any inflammation, adhesions & difficulty in movement were also affecting the fascia as well. Now medical research is increasingly focussed upon the role of fascia in causing aches, pains & restriction of movement within the body. Correspondingly, a therapy has also been designed to help with it: Myofascial Release
Myofascial Release – In Detail
Some Useful Explanations
- Fascia: this is the connective tissue that surrounds and penetrates everything in the body – veins, arteries, muscles, tendons, ligaments & organs. As in the picture above and in the video at the top of the blog fascia resemble the silken threads of a web
- Myofascia: the name for the fascia surrounding muscles in particular, which is why the term is used in massage therapy
- Tendon: a tough band of tissue which connects muscles to bones e.g. achilles tendon, which connects various muscles of the leg to the heel bone
- Ligament: a tough band of tissue which connects bones to other bones e.g.anterior cruciate ligament, which connects the two knee bones
Myofascia acts as a ‘web’ throughout the body, with an ability to stretch, flex, move & change in order to act as a shock absorber, protection & support to the internal elements of the body
So What Is Fascia & What Does It Do?
- Ground substance = a gel-like substance which acts as a type of shock absorber
- Elastin = to give it elasticity & return back to shape after stretching
- Collagen = to give it strength
To put the role of fascia in simple terms:
- More Movement = more we move & stretch = more elastin created = more flexibility
– This is why acrobatics, gymnastics, or practicing yoga or pilates leads to greater flexibility
- Less Movement = less we move and stretch = more collagen created = less flexibility
– This is why the more sedentary we are, the more restricted we can become
- Water & Lubrication: all that ‘dew like’ liquid on the fascial web is actually water. The human body is 70% water & much of it resides in the fascia assisting to keep it well-lubricated & flexible. This is why keeping well hydrated & drinking plenty of water is so important for maintaining a good range of movement
- Flexibility & Massage: however, in order for any water to reach it you have to keep the fascia, muscles & soft tissue flexible & open in the first place. This is where massage treatments & myofascial release become part of the process for improving your overall fascial, muscular and body condition
What does this mean for clients? Well fortunately research has also shown ways to release these constrictions with two different methods which I am happy to offer for clients, usually as one of the many techniques used within both Soft Tissue & Deep Tissue massage treatments. Having experienced Myofascial Release myself I can honestly say that it can have profound & highly effective results.
This can be a more intense form of release, using techniques of skin rolling & quicker movements to break down the myofascial restrictions & constrictions. It does this by releasing the elastin components of the fascia. It is often practiced in osteopathy & physiotherapy & can bring instantaneous relief.
This is my preferred method. It’s a very gentle & often soothing form of release, in which the therapist uses very slow & careful forms of stretching & pressures over much longer periods of time to also release the collagen components of the myofasical constrictions. This can result in much longer term results & is suitable for most clients, including those who are pregnant or require very safe & gentle techniques.
I usually use the different techniques singularly or together dependant upon the client, presentation, their musculature & the conditions to be treated.