Myofascial Release Therapy is a treatment option that many people are not aware of. It is a hands-on type of therapy that is particularly effective for fibromyalgia, myofascial pain syndrome, and can be quite helpful for many other types of chronic pain as well.
What It Is
To understand what Myofascial Release Therapy is, it's important to know what fascia is. Fascia is the connective tissue that surrounds, supports and stabilizes every muscle, bone, organ, nerve, blood vessel and cell in the body. It forms a continuous web from head to toe. Think of a piece of raw chicken. Between the skin and the meat you'll find a layer of thin white tissue – that is the fascia.
The fascia is normally fluid and moves easily, but when there is an injury, the fascia constricts to protect the injured area. Usually when the injury heals, the fascia relaxes and goes back to its normal state. However, sometimes it can get bound up and create a three-dimensional pull or drag throughout the whole body. Therefore, a fascial strain in one area of the body can cause pain in multiple other areas. This often happens with a chronic pain disorder like fibromyalgia. Although the original restriction may have begun in one part of the body, the pull from that one restriction can cause connected tissues to become constricted, eventually spreading throughout the body.
How It Works
Myofascial Release Therapy applies very gentle sustained pressure to various parts of the body in order to release the fascia so it can once again move fluidly. A Myofascial Release Therapy session will often begin with what is called tractioning. The therapist may lift your legs slightly by your heels, holding them with a sustained gentle pull for several minutes. This is generally felt into the low back, and when held long enough, will cause the fascia to begin to release all the way into the shoulders and neck. A similar type of traction may then be applied to your neck and shoulders as well. Because fascia is three-dimensional, the effects of Myofascial Release Therapy techniques will usually be felt wherever the fascia is most constricted.