How Your Body Can Benefit From Myofascial Release?
Myofascial Release (MFR) is a hands-on therapy where the therapist applies slow pressure with the hands, onto the clients body to unwind tightness, restrictions and adhesions caused by trauma (physical and emotional), and poor body mechanics.
Fascia is found EVERYWHERE in our body. It's a web-like matrix that surrounds, intertwines, protects and supports every other structure in the body. The network of fascia is constantly undergoing change, morphing in response to the demands placed upon it (how we move and use our body!). So, if we move less, the fascia becomes stiff, dense, and immobile, which can cause pain due to the abundance of sensory nerves within fascia (10 times more than muscle!). When we move our bodies three-dimensionally, the fascia remains hydrated, supple and responsive.
Healthy fascia, is well-lubricated and will allow adjacent structures to glide against each other allowing free, efficient and painless movement and nutrient delivery.
Unhealthy fascia is shortened, stiff and thick in response to lack of movement and also trauma, inflammation and poor posture. Fascial restrictions spread through the body like a pull in a pair of tights. Mobility is lost, setting the body up for more trauma, pain and movement limitation - a vicious cycle!
Injury and Trauma
Trauma refers to any kind of injury or hurt whether that's physical or emotional. Physical trauma often results in the formation of scar tissue and adhesions but equally, when we find ourselves in a chronic state of emotional stress over time or due to a specific traumatic event, this can also negatively impact on the fascial network in our body.
Fascia can also be compromised by inflammation in response to an injury, a medical condition, side effects from medication or diet. Inflammation creates an environment where the fascia lacks oxygen resulting in scar formation and adhesions in fascia.
Adaptation in fascia due to posture refers to how we place ourselves in positions to perform tasks or how we cope with physical or emotional strain and stress. When performed for long enough, these adaptations become habitual causing fascia to deform and an abnormal pull is created. As fascia has no "end point", injuries to this tissue quietly creeps through the entire fascial system and the body creates compensatory patterns leading to further injuries or conditions.
Myofascial Release (MFR) is a hands-on therapy where the therapist applies pressure with the hands onto the clients body palpating for tightness, restrictions and adhesions without the use of a massage medium such as oil, lotion or wax. Importantly treatment is not always where the client is experiencing pain or dysfunction because MFR treatment is based on the entire fascial matrix, which when restricted, creates a tension force, throughout the body. The actual application of this technique is a very slow, sustained pressure because any rapid force applied to fascia, the more rigid the tissue becomes. Think about a boat being pushed away from a dock quickly. The boat will dig into the water and doesn't go very far. However, if you apply a gentle force, the boat will drift farther away. MFR works in the same way.
The slow, sustained pressure of MFR improves circulation (the removal of waste and delivery of nutrients), which is often indicated by a redness in the skin after treatment. It also influences our nervous system shifting us from a sympathetic flight/fight state to a parasympathetic rest and digest state, which also impacts positively on our immune system! Treating the fascia, not only influences the physicality of the tissue and surrounding tissues, but also the emotions, memories and thoughts that are stored within each cell. This is why it is such an effective treatment for women to process birth experiences. When we experience a situation that we find stressful, that emotion is stored in the body, so it may end up sitting in our body's waste bin until it is physically released.
MFR Versus Other Massage Techniques
MFR does not work on muscle; it works on the twists and turns of the fascial network, which has created a straitjacket effect on the body. MFR therapists work on the entire body, not just the specific area of pain or dysfunction because each part of the body is responsible for supporting other parts. For example, a client with a pain in the neck/shoulders will never find a solution if the ribcage, pelvis, and even the ankles are not functioning or aligned to be able to support the shoulders. A client experiencing pelvic floor dysfunction will never find a solution if the pelvis and tissues feeding into the pelvic floor from the upper and lower body are not balanced.
Benefits of MFR
Following are some of the many benefits of MFR:
Promotion of relaxation and sense of well-being
Elimination of pain and discomfort
Improve joint range of motion and muscle function
Improve digestion, absorption and elimination
Restored balance and promotion of correct posture
Injury recovery and rehabilitation