3074 W. Lake Mary Blvd - Ste 140,
Lake Mary, Florida 32746

Description of the Fascial System

In order to understand the theory of the Myofascial Release, (MFR) approach and how it works, we need to become familiar with the fascial system. Only then can we fully appreciate the role of fascia in the healing process. Simply put, fascia is connective tissue. It is a three dimensional, continuous web that surrounds and envelops all parts of the body. It provides stability and support while allowing for gliding and flexibility with movement. Fascia suspends organs, gives muscles shape, provides protective sheaths for nerves and blood vessels, and encases the brain and spinal cord in fluid. Furthermore, it permeates throughout these structures down to the cellular level. The very walls of our cells are actually composed of fascia. Since fascia is a continuous structure, this means that every cell is connected to every other cell from head to toe!

Myofascial Release (MFR) Overview

Myofascial Release (MFR) is a safe and very effective hands-on technique that involves applying gentle sustained pressure into the Myofascial connective tissue restrictions to eliminate pain and restore motion. Myofascial Release is a highly effective form of advanced manual therapy that helps reduce or eliminate pain and makes it easier to move. Many different techniques are incorporated into Myofascial Release treatments. It feels like slow, sustained, mostly gentle compression combined with a specific method of stretching that optimizes your body’s structural alignment by balancing the tone and length of the myofascial system. It is very different than massage therapy.

Origin of Fascial Restrictions

The things most people experience as a ‘normal’ part of life can cause fascial restrictions. These include things like falls, car accidents, surgical scars or adhesions, childbirth (our own and that of our children), infections and prolonged postures. Chronic stress, tension, and emotional trauma can also lead to physical tissue restrictions in the body. Even though we may appear to heal from individual incidents, underlying fascial tightness or restriction can accumulate over time. These restrictions build up and overlap in a unique, individual pattern depending on our life experiences. Symptoms may appear seemingly out of nowhere that have origins in past injuries.

How Fascial Restrictions Result in Symptoms

Fascia in its normal, healthy state is stretchy and flexible while restricted fascia is compressed, stiff, and tight. Because fascia is contiguous with every part of our body, restrictions can have various and far reaching effects. Restrictions may be present in areas of the body that seem unrelated to the current symptoms. The most obvious and common symptom is pain. Other symptoms may accompany pain, depending on the specific structures involved. For example, numbness and tingling may occur with involvement of nerves. Restricted range of motion, decreased flexibility, and postural changes occur with restrictions pulling on muscles and bones. Circulation of blood or lymph is compromised if these vessels are compressed. Headaches/migraines occur when there is tension in the fascia that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. Fascial restrictions can also effect the functioning of organs. For example, restrictions or adhesions around the bladder can affect proper expansion/contraction properties leading to incontinence, frequency, etc.

The Role of the Patient and Therapist in Myofascial Release Therapy

Mind-body practitioners generally agree that in order to feel better, we have to get better at feeling. The patient is active in the healing process by staying present in their body, attentive to sensations and feelings that arise both during and after treatment. Expressing emotions that may spontaneously surface during treatment is encouraged by the therapist and can have a profound effect on the healing process. Feedback and communication from the patient is very valuable. In effect, therapist and patient are working together as a team to tap into the innate healing properties of the body. Performing the MFR techniques in areas of restriction allows for the body’s own self-correction. In this sense, the therapist acts as a facilitator and not a “fixer”.

What Can Myofascial Release Therapy Treat?

Myofascial Release Therapy has been found helpful in treating the following conditions:

  • Headaches/Migraines
  • Neck and Back Pain
  • TMJ (jaw pain)
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Carpal Tunnel
  • Sciatica
  • Whiplash
  • Disc Syndrome

FAQs about Myofascial Release Therapy

What do I wear?

We want you to be comfortable during your treatment. MFR is best done with as little clothing as possible. Athletic shorts works well and for females a sports bra, regular bra, cami, or tank top. A 2-piece bathing suit also works well.

How is MFR different than massage therapy?

Regular massage can be helpful for pain prevention, but it has its limitations. Those limitations become clear with increased understanding of the body’s connective tissue called fascia.

What is Fascia?

Fascia is literally the stuff that ties all the individual pieces of the body together into an integrated, functioning whole. It spreads continuously throughout the body, surrounding, penetrating and supporting every muscle, bone, organ, nerve, blood vessel and cell. It’s absolutely everywhere in the body. Take away everything from your body, leaving only the fascia behind, and your unique shape and physical features would still be clearly recognizable.

In order to make any lasting changes and improvements in persistent pain or movement problems, your therapy must address the fascia. Turns out that’s not so easy to do, due to fascia’s strong, resilient nature.

What’s the Best Technique?

The continuous, interwoven nature of fascia often allows symptoms to appear in areas well removed from their causes. It’s critical to evaluate patients as they stand or move vertically in gravity, looking for their unique structural compensations. Has your tone and structural alignment been evaluated in this way? This is the only way treatments can be customized to address your unique imbalances, which give rise to symptoms, instead of band-aiding your symptoms alone.

Get Rid of the Lubricants!

Using a lubricant drastically reduces a therapist’s effectiveness when the desired outcome is anything more than temporary gains. The very purpose of myofascial work can’t be adequately achieved under these circumstances, as the resilient, structural fibers of fascia can’t be effectively “hooked” to improve their organization and length. Lubricated techniques do little more than temporarily soften the hardened fluid aspects of the myofascia.

Traditional forms of myofascial release do not use a lubricant and are therefore quite good at hooking the fascial fibers. These approaches tend to be more effective than massage at reducing pain, but still of limited benefit for the deepest and most persistent conditions. The problem with these other methods is that they tend to be too fast and forceful. Structural problems just can’t be forced into compliance.

How many sessions will I need?

It is impossible to estimate how long a person will need treatment. Even with similar diagnoses, each patient is very individual in terms of complexity of the problem, and responsiveness to the treatment. Effects of treatment are cumulative, so I like to provide 3-5 treatments close together, maybe once or twice a week. Once we see how your body is responding, you may choose to alter the frequency. Each patient is unique in their needs, responsiveness, expectations and financial and time constraints, and we can work together to decide what is the best course of action. There is no protocol that must be followed and you are free to decide what works best for you.

How Do I find out more?

John Barnes’ website, www.myofascialrelease.com, is an invaluable source of information. In particular, click on resources, then articles for more information.

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Myofascial Release