What is myofascial release therapy?
All of our muscles and organs are enveloped in a connective tissue called fascia. It extends throughout the body in various layers affecting just about every body part. Muscle tissue is elastic, whereas fascia is much less so. The analogy I like to use is if you imagine a muscle as a rubber band and that rubber band was surrounded by plastic wrap. Sometimes the plastic wrap can get sticky or tacky and not move efficiently. When that happens it impedes muscle movement.
Muscle cells do not regenerate when they are injured, unlike skin cells that are constantly sloughing off and being replaced. When a muscle is torn or cut through (as in surgery) the body lays down fascia to replace the injured muscle tissue.
Myofascial release therapy encompasses a series of techniques that address the fascia. Fascial work is done directly on the skin and does not use oil. These techniques can feel “burning” or like the skin is being stretched.
What causes myofascial restrictions or adhesions?
Our bodies are very adaptable. When there has been an injury and scar tissue is present, it causes the muscle to be shorter and tighter. Even with a scar our bodies will continue to function but not optimally. Over time the restricted fascia will start to pull on surrounding muscles, organs and other nearby fascia leading to pain in other parts of the body.
Fascial restrictions don’t just develop from injury. They can also develop from dehydration, repetitive motions, poor posture, improper body mechanics and more.
How do myofascial techniques help?
Fascial restrictions can lead to pain, decreased range of motion, weakness and general dysfunction. With fascial lines extending throughout the body, pain can be felt in places other than the initial site of injury.
If the fascia is restricted, massaging the muscle is not enough. Fascial work is often uncomfortable and depending on how long the restrictions have been there, it can even be painful. The key is to communicate with your therapist when a technique is too painful.
One way to keep up the health of your fascia is to stay hydrated. It is not uncommon for people to say the feel thirsty after a lot of fascial work. This is because fascia absorbs water as it is being treated.
Catherine Taman is a Registered Massage Therapist practicing in Toronto, Canada. She has a special interest in treating chronic pain, headaches, sports injuries and pregnancy related pain. To book an appointment with Catherine, visit rmtmassagetherapytoronto