In the delivery of myofascial release therapy, there are certain techniques that the therapist uses to facilitate release of the myofascial tissue. Myofascial release techniques refers to the various ways that the myofascial release therapist manipulates the soft tissues to promote release of the tight myofascia and relief of myofascial pain.
There are various manual techniques that are used to manipulate the soft myofascial tissue. Your therapist may use one, some or all of these techniques, depending on how your body responds to the therapy. The Benefits of Myofascial Release Therapy include:
- Connective tissue massage
- Foam rolling
- Strain-counterstrain techniques
- Soft tissue mobilization
- Structural integration
These may be strange terms for the non-medical person, but the point to be made is that myofascial release is much more than a simple massage.
Two Categories Of The Myofascial Release Techniques
Myofascial release techniques fall under two categories. These categories are:
Passive myofascial release techniques are performed with the patient staying completely relaxed.
Active techniques are performed with the patient actively participating to provide resistance as needed.
The two categories of myofascial release techniques are further divided into two types- indirect and direct.
Direct Myofascial Release Techniques
The Direct Release Myofascial Technique involves deep tissue manipulation to work with the restricted, or tight, myofascial tissue. Gentle, sustained force is applied until the tissue is released.
Using their fingers, knuckles, elbows and other tools, the practitioner works to slowly stretch the tight fascia, applying a stretching force to the tissue. This purpose of this stretching force is to elongate the tightened fascia and release the ‘stuck’ fascial tissue.
Because the fascia is layered, the practitioner needs to work slowly through each layer to reach down to the deep tissue.
Indirect Myofascial Release Techniques
With the indirect method, the myofascial release technique used is one of a gentle stretching with light pressure. This allows the fascia to slowly ‘unwind’ until free movement is once again possible.
The gentle stretching that is applied to the tightened myofascial increases the heat and blood flow to the area. This process promotes the body’s innate ability to heal itself. The healing eliminates the pain and restore the body to its optimum ability.
Your myofascial release therapist will utilize both passive and active treatments along with the indirect and direct methods in order to free you of the pain. Each therapist may differ in their approach as they have developed their own style, awareness and experience with the release technique using myofascial massage therapy.
The Principles And Benefits of Myofascial Release Therapy
A renowned physical therapist and psychotherapist Carol Manheim, author of The Myofascial Release Manual, summarizes the principles of myofascial release therapy as follows:
- Fascia covers all organs of the body.
- Muscle and fascia cannot be separated.
- All muscle stretching is myofascial stretching.
- Myofascial stretching in one area of the body can be felt in and will affect the other body areas.
- Release of myofascial restrictions can affect other body organs through a release of tension in the whole fascia system.
- Myofascial release techniques work even though the exact mechanism is not yet fully understood.
As Ms. Manheim states above, myofascial release techniques work. This can be attested to by the many people who once suffered with severe myofascial pain syndrome.
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