Myofascial Release is a technique that is used by a licensed physical therapist, massage therapist, acupuncturist, and chiropractor. It addresses discomfort caused by tightness and sensitivity in the myofascial tissue. To understand the causes of myofascial pain and the benefits of Myofascial Release, we’ll dig deeper into the how and why of the condition and treatment.
What is fascia?
Let’s start at the beginning, and discuss what fascia is. Fascia is a thin layer of connective tissue that surrounds bones, muscles, organs, and nerves connected from head to toe. Naturally flexible and slippery, fascia can become dry and tight, making it stick in places it shouldn’t. This can be caused by too little physical activity, repetitive motion injuries, or surgery. In these cases, the layers of slippery fascia begin to adhere to each other and no longer move freely, causing inflexibility and pain.
If you’ve ever cooked a chicken breast and noticed the thin, clear layer across it – that gives you an idea of what fascia is. You can also think of it as a full body leotard that sits under the skin. Of course, the body’s real fascia system is much more complex than that, but this provides a simplified example. Imagine if following an injury, an area of the leotard became stuck and no longer moved freely with the rest of the fabric. The tightness and discomfort would be immediately noticeable.
That tightness is an adhesion, and adhesions can worsen over time. They can cause uncomfortable knots in the muscles, known as trigger points.
How does Myofascial Release work?
It is often difficult to determine precisely where a trigger point is, so a trained physical therapist will begin by applying gentle pressure to the area in question, feeling for stiff or tight areas. With continued pressure, the fascia should begin to loosen and release until the physical therapist can feel that the tension is fully released.
Because the body’s fascia is all connected, the area treated may not be the area where the pain appears to be originating. Eliminating trigger points can help relax surrounding areas and relieve pain you may not realize is related.
How do I know if I have myofascial pain?
The best way to know is to consult with a trained practitioner, as myofascial pain can present in a variety of ways and does not show up on most imaging. It can also be difficult to distinguish types of pain; while joint and muscle pain tends to feel worse with movement, gentle stretching can improve the discomfort of myofascial pain.
Some types of myofascial pain are obvious, like painful adhesions surrounding scar tissue after a surgery or injury. Others are less obvious, but can still be treated safely and effectively using Myofascial Release. These conditions include TMJ (jaw pain), chronic headache, neck and back pain, sports injury, sexual dysfunction, endometriosis, and many more.
Avoiding and treating myofascial pain at home
If you don’t have a specific concern but want to avoid myofascial tightness, increased movement and regular stretching is a good way to keep the entire body flexible. If you work a job that keeps you behind a desk, be sure to get up and move around throughout the day. This is good for the body in a number of ways, and is often overlooked.
If you are having pain currently, myofascial pain can often be improved with a combination of heat therapy, foam rolling, and stretching. Stubborn or re-occurring pain is best treated with the help of a physical therapist who specializes in Myofascial Release.
John H. Barnes Myofascial Release on Long Island
Dr. Lauradonna D’Antoni of Body Restoration Physical Therapy, located in Roslyn Heights, specializes in the John F. Barnes Myofascial Release Approach. This approach specifically addresses removing the tremendous pressure that myofascial adhesions place upon the body for a holistic approach to wellness that medicine, surgery, and traditional physical therapy is unable to provide.
Myofascial Release can safely and effectively treat acute and chronic pain for long lasting relief. Dr. D’Antoni provides Myofascial Release on Long Island in a safe and comfortable environment. Contact Body Restoration Physical Therapy today for more information.