Myofascial Release Massage
What is Myofascial Tissue?
In general, fascia refers to the sheets of connective tissue enveloping the body beneath the skin, and enclosing and compartmentalizing muscle tissue layers and muscle groups. Fascia provides attachments for muscles and encourages venous return within the lower extremities, and also connects muscles to other muscles.
There are two two types of fascia:
Superficial – include the subcutaneous layer of loose connective tissue, adipose tissue, nerve receptors, and blood vessels. Areas like the wrists and ankles have a sheet like structure made of elastin to allow movement of multiple tendons underneath
Deep – extends from the superficial and surrounds deeper structures including muscle bellies and organs.
Important cool facts about fascia:
- Fascia plays a unifying role within the soft tissue.
- Fascia interfaces with the nervous system and provides feedback for other regions of the body (similar to the fungal mycelium network of the soil linking all the trees and plants together)
- Fascia holds memories (The Body keeps the Score), via a neurofascial connection, where higher brain centers activate autonomic and endocrine pathways
- Fascia is thixotropic, meaning it can reversible transform from a dense, solid state to a liquid gel state (think of a blob of wet corn starch, where exerting a quick force makes the corn starch act as a solid surface, where exerting a slow force makes the corn starch act more like a liquid)
What is Myofascial Release?
The goal of myofascial release massage is to find the areas of the body where the tissues feel particularly stiff and tight, and then spending time on those areas performing deep stretching strokes. As opposed to other types of massage like Swedish massage, myofascial release is often painful and intense. The therapist may also use tools to help perform the movements to increase pressure. Myofascial tissue will often become tight in the following areas:
- Lower back
- Upper back
What are the benefits?
People receiving myofascial release will often feel sore after the session. In addition, multiple sessions will be required to offer long-term relief. In a span of 3 or more sessions, one can expect to experience:
- Improved range of motion
- Reduced soreness
- Improved recovery ability
- Easier relaxation
- Improved circulation
- Relieved overall stress
It is also possible to perform myofascial release yourself, using a variety of self massage tools, such as a foam roller. Although myofascial release is painful, it should not be too painful. If you experience a sharp or shooting pain, this is a sign that you pushed too far and should seek professional help. Here is a list of health conditions that would be best to talk to a doctor about before seeking myofascial release massage:
- Metabolic disorders
- Open or healing wounds
- Deep vein thrombosis
- Taking blood thinners