What is Myofascial Release?
The John F. Barnes’ Myofascial Release Approach® is a unique manual therapy modality that focuses on relieving myofascial restrictions. Myofascial Release uses techniques considered to be gentle, safe, and effective in producing lasting results. If you’ve ever felt tension in your body that causes pain or limits your ability to move how you want, then Myofascial Release is for you!
The fascia is a whole-body network of connective tissue that acts like a scaffolding for virtually every structure in the body. It is a 3d web of fibers that holds you together and helps you move. These fibers adapt to the loads and pressures in our body and everyone’s fascial web is unique!
Healthy fascia is key for a healthy body, but physical and emotional trauma, stress, and inflammatory responses lead to restrictions in the fascia. If you’ve ever felt tension limiting your movement, this is due to myofascial restrictions. These restrictions can also place a lot of pressure on sensitive areas, sometimes causing serious pain as well as limiting blood flow and impacting organ function.
Myofascial Release can help you experience freedom in your body! With gentle pressure sustained over a long period of time, Myofascial Release slowly melts away tension and allows the body to release on its own terms. This slow, gentle pressure makes use of the fascia’s properties of piezoelectricity and viscoelasticity.
- Piezoelectricity means that sustained mechanical forces cause the fascial fibers to produce a small electric charge, resulting in a cascade of chemical and physical effects that help in the healing process.
- The viscoelastic property of the fascia means that, like a rubber band, its shape can be temporarily changed easily with force applied, but it will tend to return to its original shape afterwards. Holding sustained pressure allows the fibers to lengthen in a more permanent way.
Taking advantage of these fascinating properties of fascia is why a good Myofascial Release session will often leave us feeling a few inches taller along with a feeling of softness and spaciousness in our bodies.
What does Myofascial Release treat?
Myofascial Release can help anyone to feel more free and at ease in their body. Myofascial restrictions can create a sensation like being tied up in a straight-jacket, putting pressure on the body and limiting movement. However, most of us have been restricted for so long that we are unaware of the level of tension being held in our body. The relief from Myofascial Release treatment can be profound both physically and mentally, like removing a weight from your shoulders – literally AND metaphorically.
Because the fascia is a whole body network that connects to all the different organ systems, Myofascial Release can be used to treat a very wide range of conditions and symptoms. Myofascial restrictions can create areas of pain and tension, limit effective range of motion, and impact the function of organs.
Myofascial Release reduces inflammation and helps manage stress, and can bring immediate and lasting relief to people experiencing pain, tension, or discomfort. It also can help athletes improve performance by easing tension and enhancing mobility, facilitating effective whole-body movement and speeding up recovery time. It is great for recovery from car accidents and other injuries as well as long-term chronic or unexplained pain.
What Does Myofascial Release Treat?
From myofascialrelease.com, here is a list of some examples of conditions that Myofascial Release can help with:
- Back Pain
- Pelvic Pain
- Neck Pain
- Sports Injuries
- Chronic Pain
- Disc Problems
- Pelvic Floor Dysfunction
- Neurological Dysfunction
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Carpal Tunnel
- Jaw Pain (TMJ)
- Painful Scars
- Myofascial Pain Syndrome
- Women’s Health Issues
What is the difference between Myofascial Release and massage?
As described above, Myofascial Release uses gentle pressure sustained for a longer period of time compared to most other manual therapy modalities. This helps avoid any damage or irritation to sensitive areas, and achieves a deeper release of the fibers in the fascia.
Myofascial Release is a holistic approach to manual therapy. Therapists consider the patient as a whole person, mind, body and spirit. Because the fascia tissue forms a continuous network throughout the whole body with no separation, the area where symptoms are showing up the most prominently may not in fact be the location of the root cause of the problem. It may simply be the weakest link in the chain, so to speak. In each session, the therapist will pay careful attention to the alignment of the hips and spine in particular, and they will apply corrective techniques if needed to bring the structure back into balance. Because of these reasons, the therapist may work in other areas besides where the primary symptoms are centered.
Another important difference is the emphasis we place in Myofascial Release on the body’s innate feeling-intelligence and the mind-body connection. Anyone who has dealt with chronic pain, or any athlete or anyone who has explored mind-body practices like Yoga is aware that there is no clear-cut separation between mind and body and that our physical state affects our mood and vice versa.
In your Myofascial Release session, you will be encouraged into a quiet and centered mental state that allows you to gain more awareness of your body and your myofascial restrictions. Emotional sensations can arise during treatment and you will be supported in processing and expressing those emotions without judgment. Everyone’s healing process is unique as much as our personalities and our bodies are unique and you are encouraged to take off the breaks and allow your healing process to unfold in the way that is most natural to you.