Every day, countless people are affected by chronic pain and the physical imitations it causes. Myofascial release is an advanced hands-on bodywork technique that can help. More and more people are finding this unique therapy can reduce their pain, improve posture and increase comfortable movement.
What Is Myofascial Release? "Myo" refers to muscle, and "fascia" to the elastic web to connective tissue that ties your body together. Muscles and fascia work together to support your body and facilitate moment. Myofascial release techniques relieve tension and pain by releasing and lengthening both muscles and fascia.
The Importance of Fascia Interwoven like threads in fabric, fascia supports and covers everything in your body including muscles, organs, bones, and nerves. Fascia is essential for the proper function of muscles and other moving parts such as joints and tendons.
Poor posture, chronic inflammation, overuse and trauma such as accidents or surgery can cause the fascia to become inflexible, restricting natural movement. Prolonged tension from stress or emotional upset can also contribute to fascial restriction. Tight, inflexible fascia can pull on muscles and other structures, causing tension, pain and limited mobility.
Addressing Pain at Its Source When fascia cannot move freely, it can cause discomfort in seemingly unrelated areas. For example, restrictions in the shoulder can actually pull on and cause pain in the wrist. Myofascial release is remarkably effective because it addresses a whole body region, not just one area in isolation. For example, to address pain in the wrist and hand, I may work from your neck to the tips of your fingers.
With myofascial release, you may find relief not only from temporary tightness, but from long-held tension as well. With the pull of tight fascia, muscles can stay lengthened and in balance with each other. As a result, people often notice that their increased comfort and mobility are long-lasting.
Help for Specific Problems Myofascial release promotes flexibility, balance and relaxation. The technique is especially effective for relieving a stiff neck, chronic headaches, plantar fasciitis, and low back or shoulder pain. It is also used to reduce the discomforts of fibromyalgia, arthritis, and temporomanduibular joint dysfunction (TMJD). In addition, myofascial release can help repair old injuries by increasing the pliability of scar tissue in muscles and tendons.
What Is a Myofacial Release Session Like? Your session will begin with a discussion of your injury, pain, or limitation, and an assessment of your range of motion and posture. Then I will begin working with the outermost layer of tissue and, like uncovering the layers of an onion, gradually move deeper. As you relax, I will apply long, smooth, deliberate strokes and extended stretches to your tissues.
Releasing fascia requires a sensitive and slow approach. Your first session may be quite gentle, and you may think nothing is happening. Watch for changes over the following days such as reduced tension and increased ease of movement. Over time, as outer layers become more pliable, your therapist will be able to work more and more deeply.
Some people notice soreness afterward, especially with the first treatment. This is similar to the temporary soreness that can result from exercise. I may offer additional advice for easing your soreness, such as drinking plenty of water.
The Emotional Component When there has been physical trauma or long-held stress and tension, an emotional element can be involved. If this is the case, releasing tension can sometimes bring up feelings. If you wish to follow up, I may be able to recommend helpful resources.
Partnering With Your Therapist I may ask you to play an active role in your sessions. For example, I might ask you to breathe deeply as a stroke is applied. Or, you may need to change your position, or stretch your body to help your tissues lengthen and relax.
Communicating with me during your session is vital. During the session, let me know if the pressure or anything else is uncomfortable. Also advise me of any medical conditions you have or medications you are taking.
On occasion, I may suggest specific exercises, stretches or relaxation techniques to do regularly at home. This can help keep your muscles flexible, lengthened, and relaxed between visits.
Multiple sessions often increase the effectiveness of myofascial release. You and I can determine together the number and frequency of sessions.
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