Myofascial Release is an extremely light touch delivery of traction to the fascia, sometimes called “unwinding”, when specifically addressing a localized joint. This therapy targets the connective tissues enveloping muscles, tendons, ligaments, and organs, helping to free up restrictive patterns within the body.
Therapist-delivered MFR runs rather opposed to the popular trend of, “foam rolling” and other tissue smashing techniques used by athletes to try to self treat. While rolling the body over balls and rollers can help move fluids out of the tissues, increase blood flow, and can help with faster recovery and soreness from exercise, it is really not very effective in truly targeting and releasing the fascia itself.
Understanding the tissue we are seeking to target is imperative before launching into treatment plans.
Fascia is a soft tissue component of our connective tissue system that permeates the entire human body, forming a continuous, three-dimensional matrix of structural support. It connects and surrounds all organs, muscles, bones, and nerve fibers, providing support and protection. (Note the shiny thin layer layer of tissue covering a fresh chicken breast for a great visual aid)
Collagen is the primary structural component of fascia. This resilient protein has many functions and travels uninterrupted through the body, resisting tensile stress within skin, tendons, and ligaments, as well as the coverings of muscle tissues and their various constituent parts.
As light as it is, collagen is proportionally stronger than a STEEL CABLE!. This is part of the reason that simply stretching, and quick, intense “foam rolling” does not properly or thoroughly affect it. Instead, pressure must be applied in the direction of restriction, while waiting for the body to gently release. This can sometimes take thirty seconds or more to begin releasing, so patience is key.
Many times dysfunctional areas of fascia are referred to as knots, ropes, adhesions, and scar tissue. These restrictions arise from a misalignment of tissue due to trauma and injury, poor motor patterns, sedentary lifestyle, inactivity, and emotional distress. Consequently, inflammation occurs and, over time, the connective tissue thickens, resulting in painful restrictions and inflammation.
By releasing these tissues, we are creating a biochemical and mechanical change that, in turn, provides the opportunity to create more efficient movement patterns in the future. Please note that there may be a burning sensation as the tissue begins to let go. This is normal and short-lived.