Your Body and Muscle Maintenance

What is Myofascial Release?

Myofascial release is a technique used on the myofascial tissues or membranes which support, connect, and wrap your muscles. These tissues are seen where muscles anchor to other structures and can cause stiffness and pain. This type of pain is generally hard to pinpoint if you are asked where the pain is coming from as it is difficult to localize for the sufferer.1

A person experiencing this pain will have muscle pain which is widespread and movement may be restricted in the joints or muscles even though the pain is truly originating from a myofascial structure that is not necessarily that near to where the pain is being felt.

How does it work?

Myofascial Release Therapy can reduce pain by releasing tension or tightness in the points triggering the pain and will usually involve massage over a large muscle area rather than at one point. The therapist will massage the area and feel for any regions which feel especially tense. When found, these areas will be massaged and stretched using light pressure to release the tension in the affected area. This process will be continued until all tension has been removed from the area.

The area the therapist works on may seem unrelated to where you are experiencing the pain but it is, in fact, the point triggering the pain. Myofascial release also will massage the muscle next to the affected area to help eliminate tension caused by the myofascia’s tenseness.2

Who is it good for?

This form of massage therapy is good for those who have been diagnosed with myofascial pain syndrome, fibromyalgia, and those suffering from chronic headaches. Other good candidates include those who have venous insufficienny to reduce blood pooling and potential vein damage in the future.3

Are there any risks?

There are not many risks associated with Myofascial release therapy but those recovering from injuries, burns, or fractures may wish to wait until they are fully healed to participate in this therapy. Patients who suffer from fragile bones, like those diagnosed with osteoporosis, or those with deep vein issues would not be the best candidates for this therapy as they would have increased risks of injury. Patients taking blood thinning medications would probably want to stay away from this therapy as it may cause bruising or bleeding that may potentially be unseen.

Occasionally, people have experienced allergies to the lotions or oils used for the massage so it is important to ask for a list of ingredients if you have any allergies. Very rarely, nerve damage or temporary difficulty moving your muscles or paralysis may occur but this is not permanent.4

As with most things, it is important to consult with your primary care practitioner before beginning any new therapy or activity as they can assess whether or not this therapy is right for you and your particular health concerns. Once you have your doctor’s go-ahead, you’ll want to make sure that the practitioner performing the therapy has all the credentials and training necessary to do it effectively and safely.

1 http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/back-pain/expert-answers/myofascial-release/faq-20058136
2,3,4 http://www.healthline.com/health/chronic-pain/myofascial-release#ConsultYourDoctor6