Myofascial release (MFR) is an extremely mild and gentle form of stretching that has a profound effect on body tissues.
Fascia is a tissue in the body that is also referred to as connective tissue. ‘Myo’ is a prefix which refers to muscle. Myofascia would then be a term aimed at connective tissue which surrounds muscles. Muscles are structures in the body which are large and easily palpated or manipulated and so the term ’myofascial release’ is used. Strictly speaking, the fascia penetrates every aspect of the body and surrounds every tissue and organ in the body including nerves, vessels, muscle and bone. It is a continuous sheet of connective tissue which extends from the top of the head to the tip of the toes. Dense fascia is easily recognisable (for example: the tough, white membrane we often see surrounding butchered meat).
As fascia penetrates all parts of the body it follows that when one area scars and hardens, it can place tension on adjacent pain-sensitive structures, as well affect other structures in far away areas. Some patients have bizarre pain symptoms which seem unrelated to the original injury or complaint. These can be explained by accepting the myofascial model. Acute cases resolve after a few treatments but chronic conditions will take longer to influence.
An extremely mild and gentle form of stretching, Myofascial release has a profound effect on body tissues. It is a technique which allows the tissue to yield its secrets, as opposed to controlling an outcome. It is also possible to treat an area which is seemingly unrelated to the injury or surgical site yet, because of the interconnectedness of the body, the treatment is effective. The stretch is gentle yet must be sustained. Other soft tissue mobilisation techniques exist which can be painful but typically do not engage all levels of connective tissue. They are sometimes referred to as myofascial release but are different to the technique described above. MFR is relatively painless during the process. The pain may occur after therapy as the body is asked to move or hold itself in a different way. Bearing this in mind, MFR fits in very well with trained physical rehabilitation therapists in that we are qualified to prescribe gentle exercises which will assist in maintaining the ‘new’ form.
MFR can be used to successfully treat a number of connective tissue injuries including muscle overwork or shortening, also referred to as repetitive strain injury. Chronic inflammation after microtrauma, or in the form of an unresolved scar will benefit from MFR. A direct injury with resultant scar tissue, and long standing injuries with layers of compensation all respond to MFR.
Watch "Strolling under the skin" by Dr Jean Claude Guimberteau at the URL above for more insight,
EquiCanis Canine Myofascial Release Course presented by Ruth Mitchell-Golladay PT, CMT, NCTMB, EBW - April 2018
Image used from guimberteau website