“Finds the pains, looks else where for the cause”
What is Myofascial Release?
The word is broken up, Myo is Greek for muscle and Fascia is another word for band or connective tissue. Myofascial release is a form of body work which uses slow sustained pressure of up to 5 minutes or more to release restrictions within the fascial system to restore health and function to the body. This approach of myofascial release was created by an American physical therapist called John F Barnes.
What is Fascia?
Fascia is a tough 3D connective tissue that connects our body from head to toe. Fascia is the environment of every system of your body. It surrounds and infuses every muscle, organ, blood vessel, nerve, bone and cell in your body.
The role and function of fascia in your body is to Protect, Support, Separate structures, Defend, Lubricate, Provide fluid and lymphatic flow, Movement, Shape, Repair and Healing. Fascia is made up of 3 elements
Elastin – Gives the fascia is elasticity and flexibility
Collagen – Give the fascia its strength and stability
Ground Substance – Gives the fascia its lubrication and movement
What happens to fascia when it becomes dysfunctional?
Whether through a sports injury, stress, poor posture, car accident, surgery, repetitive movement, illness, mental health issues etc. the ground substance will start to become thicker and denser. This will start to put an increase pressure on to the structures it surrounds. This pressure can be up to 2000Ib per square inch! As the body is completely connected, we will then start to develop compensatory patterns and start creating more dysfunction in other parts of the body. We will then start developing symptoms i.e. lower back pain, headaches, muscle pains, arthritis, asthma, joint problems, slipped disc the list goes on! It is important to know that fascial restrictions do not show up X-rays or MRI scans, resulting in theses restrictions not being picked up.
Why do we need to Release Fascia?
Because Fascia is the environment of every system in the body, its important to release it prior to other techniques and corrective exercises. This allows the tissues to glide again, off loads the crushing pressure from the pain sensitive structures and allows self correction to occur. This then allows any corrective exercises we include to be more long lasting and effective.
How is Fascia Released?
Because fascia is part of our fight and flight response, it is release with slow sustained pressure (5 min or longer). If its done too aggressively and forcefully it will tense up. Slow sustained pressure will not only release the elastin and collagen fibres, but restore the ground substance (the lubrication) back to a more fluid state. This offloads the crushing pressure, rehydrates the body and allows the body to self correct.
Will massage and other forms of physical therapy help?
All forms of physical therapy certainly play their part and have their benefits. However because the techniques aren’t held for any real length of time, the fascia will only release temporarily and return to its restrictive state. Only slow sustained myofascial release (5 minutes or longer) will release the fascial restrictions completely. Once the tissue has been fully released, other forms of physical therapy and massage can be integrated into the treatment, greatly enhancing their effectiveness.