Common Questions about Myofascial Release

How does myofascial release work and how do I keep my body healing?  Do I need to be seen by a MFR therapist forever?

Myofascial release works by stretching/loosening the fascia that is tight or adhered.  It also stimulates the body’s natural healing process. Tight fascia can exert up to 2000# of pressure/square inch and compresses whatever is underneath it.  It may compress a nerve, blood vessel, or muscle.  A chiropractic adjustment or a traditional relaxation massage may only provide temporary relief, because it doesn’t address the underlying collagenous layer of the fascia.  So if there’s an imbalance around the vertebrae, the vertebra will “slip back out” again.  One has to use a sustained pressure that’s not “forceful” for 3-5 minutes and some gentle “unwinding” (like stretching) of the area in order for it to relax.  Usually my patients notice a definite improvement in 1-3 sessions.  I also instruct them how to incorporate relaxation, breathing, and self-stretches, and how to use a foam roll for self-help treatment.  I have found personally that once an area is injured, it tends to flare up periodically, and the fascia will have a tendency to re-tighten along the original lines of injury.  Doing self-treatment and stretching/strengthening the area help tremendously, but it may be an on-going process to keep yourself pain-free.

How does myofascial release feel?

The amount of pressure applied to the body is applied gently at first and then may become more deep as the patient’s body softens, and the tissue elongates. Stretching and isolated muscle contraction may also be used to improve muscle balance.  Tequniques are used to reduce the body’s “guarding patterns” after it has become injured.  The patient may feel warmth where the therapist’s hands are located or may feel warmth in another location.   This is a sign that the tissue is releasing its tightness. The patient is encouraged to relax, clear their thoughts, and turn an inward focus on their body.  Where does it feel tight or painful?  Visualize sending increased blood flow to that area.  This tequnique stimulates the internal parts of the brain that are involved in the body’s natural healing ability.  Research has shown that the outer part of the brain (neocortex) , which is the reasoning part of the brain, and asks “why” is not involved in the healing process.