Myofascial release, also known as "MFR" is a hands-on treatment to resolve restrictions and scarring in the body's fascial system. These restrictions and scars can be caused by injury, illness, repetitive stress, surgery, accidents and falls, or emotional trauma. They can produce symptoms such as pain, loss of range of motion, persistent tightness, headaches, and nerve entrapment, as well as other problems.
The fascial system is the only system in the body that touches every other system down to the level of the cellular walls. It is a supportive, shock-absorbing tissue like a dense spiderweb. Along with our skeleton, it gives our body shape and form. It wraps around delicate structures like nerves, bones, muscle fibers, organs, our spinal cord & brain, etc. Made up of strong collagen fibers and a fluid component, it can move in any direction and protects us from injuries in its healthy state. When it is restricted or scarred, it cannot absorb the shock of day to day life, accidents and injuries, and so patients begin to struggle more and more with pain and lack of range of motion. The collagen fibers in fascia are extremely strong and restrictions can put enormous pressure on joints and nerves as a result.
Often, by the time a patient tries myofascial release, they haven't had any luck with stretching, yoga, strengthening, traditional massage and traditional physical therapy, pain medication, chiropractic adjustment, or even other more serious interventions like surgery and cortisone shots. We specialize in treating people who have tried many other solutions to their pain and dysfunction without success. For these patients, treating the fascial system is often a key missing piece that gets them the improvement they've been looking for.
Your first appointment will include an intake where we discuss your health history and your goals for treatment. How would better movement and reduced pain affect your lifestyle? We will also discuss a self treatment plan to help you reach your goals.
We ask that patients come to each appointment with athletic clothing, so that the therapist can easily access skin. For men, this can be a pair of shorts or underwear. For women, please wear a sports bra or swimsuit top, and a pair of shorts or underwear.
Please do not apply any lotion, oil, salve or other topical products to your skin before your appointment. Your therapist must be able to work directly on clean, dry skin without sliding in order to perform myofascial release.
Myofascial release is unique because it takes “a whole person” approach to achieve authentic healing. We look at structural, emotional and fluid components that might be resulting in pain or reduced range of motion. Rather than only treating the region of the body where symptoms appear, myofascial release evaluates and treats the entire body, because pain and dysfunction can refer all around the whole body fascial system.
A myofascial release treatment will feel different than what you might have tried before. First, myofascial techniques are held for several minutes, and the techniques start out with gentle pressure, only increasing the pressure as the body allows. Traditional therapy might only hold for a brief time, which only lengthens muscle and the elastic component of fascia. The stiff, collagen fiber component requires several minutes to change in a long-lasting way.
Traditional therapy might also use more pressure, forcing through the body's barrier and creating a bracing response in the nervous system, which only makes the nervous system more sensitive to pain. If you've ever gotten a deep tissue massage and found yourself holding your breath as the therapist used a lot of pressure, you've experienced this phenomenon.
Myofascial release oftentimes uses active elongation. This occurs when you actively participate in a release of the tissue, sometimes because you get the urge to move and other times as part an exercise your therapist will lead you through. Feeling how movement lengthens the tissue in a three-dimensional way allows the fascia to unwind and stretch like taffy, to cause lasting effects - much more permanent than doing a sports stretch for thirty seconds.
Although every patient is unique, most people need to receive one to six treatments before noticing a change in their body and in their symptoms.
If you are seeking treatment for a long term chronic problem or an old injury or surgery, please be patient with your body. Symptoms that happen gradually over a long time will also need some time to resolve, even with regular myofascial release treatments.
Regardless of your individual treatment plan, your therapist will instruct you in at home self-treatment techniques and will give you tools to continue maintaining your fascial health at home.
Tight facial tissue can be the cause of conditions such as endometriosis, abdominal pain following pelvic surgery, episiotomy scars, and coccygeal disorders from trauma. Myofascial release can address painful menstrual and premenstrual symptoms, in addition to painful symptoms of pregnancy, childbirth, recurrent bladder pain and infection, frequency, urgency and/or incontinence, painful intercourse, sexual dysfunction, elimination problems, tailbone pain, painful episiotomy scars and more.
These problems can often be substantially reduced or eliminated by gentle myofascial release techniques. At Therapeutic Relief, we have extensive experience with women's health and pelvic pain and have had success with long-term and persistent symptoms in this area.
Rolfing and myofascial release both work on the fascia. However, Rolfing uses a prescribed method for a specific number of treatments, usually 12 sessions that are referred to as "the recipe."
Myofascial release has no recipe. Its practitioners begin a healing journey based on each client’s specific symptoms and then follow a unique therapeutic progression for maximum benefit
Deep tissue massage, also called myofascial massage, uses soft-tissue manipulation to effectively reduce stress, tension, pain and fatigue, but only temporarily. Myofascial Release can also reduce tension and pain, but the results are generally permanent because the actual structure of the tissue is being changed.
Myofascial Release is a specialized form of manual therapy capable of preventing, reducing or eliminating more serious, chronic or widespread conditions. Regular massage uses firm stretching and short hold duration, while Myofascial Release focuses on mild, prolonged stretches that allow the fascia to relax so permanent changes to take effect. Fascia cannot be stretched with fast, hard typical massage stretches.
Symptoms often appear in areas far away from their cause, so the Myofascial Release therapist will evaluate your structural alignment and customize treatment to address your unique imbalances. Massage therapy feels good temporarily, but is generally unable to address structural imbalances in the way that MFR can.