Myofascial Release

Myofascial release involves deep and slow manual pressure and strokes, often combined with active or passive movement of the tissue being worked. This can transform a myofascia that is dehydrated, stiff and brittle into one that is hydrated, elastic and yielding. In addition, the manual work stimulates nerve endings in the myofascia, which via neuromuscular pathways can counteract stress induced tension and pain.

What is Fascia?

The term myofascia refers to the inseparable bundle of muscle tissue “myo” and its accompanying web of fascia (connective tissue). It is a strong and elastic multilayered tissue that is very adaptable. This means it changes its form easily depending on how it gets loaded, pulled or stretched. For many years fascia was considered a non-functional “wrapping stuff,” and was discarded in dissections and excluded from anatomy books. Now, it is a highly regarded tissue and recent research has shown that it is involved in numerous functions. To mention only a few is our ability to jump high (elasticity), run far (endurance), lift heavy loads (force transmission), stretch well, and to feel and heal pain.

Myofascial Web

The fascia forms a continuous web throughout the body, covering and connecting every single muscle, bone, organ and nerve. That means that our bones, held together by fascia, can be imagined as “floating” in this myofascial web. Functionally, this connectedness throughout the body means that a tightening in one end of the web will create a pull somewhere else. Thus, where the symptom shows up might not be where the problem lies. As a result of this, our myofascial web will almost serve as a blueprint of our life style and activities. If, for instance, you do the same movement every day, your fascia, along the lines of loading, will get palpably firm. On the other hand, if you sit all day, your fascia can get flattened, dehydrated and brittle. In the long run, both scenarios can be a source of myofascial and skeletal injuries, imbalances and pain.

Myofascial Release

Myofascial release is a derivative of the modality called Rolfing, which Dr. Ida Rolf started to develop in the 1940s. It involves deep pressure and slow strokes, which is often combined with passive or active movement of the tissue being worked. Myofascial release can break up painful scar tissue and fascial adhesions (layers of fascia stuck together), and help hydrate the fascia (facilitate absorption of water). The latter make the fascia more pliable and less brittle, thus more injury resistant. In addition, myofascial release stimulates fascial proprioceptors (nerve-endings sensitive to touch, tension, pressure and vibration) and provides pain relief by quieting fascial nociceptors (nerve-endings sensitive to pain). Lastly, myofascial release can stimulate production and reorganization of fascial fibers, thus promote the development of a healthy and elastic myofascial web.

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