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Myofascial Release is a very effective hands-on technique that provides sustained pressure into myofascial restrictions to eliminate pain and restore motion. The theory of Myofascial Release requires an understanding of the fascial system (or connective tissue). The fascia is a specialized system of the body that has an appearance similar to a spider's web or a sweater. Myofascial Release is a technique that requires special training above and beyond basic massage and physical therapy curriculums. Our therapist has been extensively trained by the founder of Myofascial Release, John Barnes.
When Fascia is Injured
Anatomy of Fascia
Treating Fascial Restrictions
Muscle provides the greatest bulk of our body's soft tissue. Because all muscle is enveloped by and ingrained with fascia, myofascial release is the term that has been given to the techniques that are used to relieve soft tissue from the abnormal grip of tight fascia ("myo" means "Muscle").
The type of myofascial release technique chosen by the therapist will depend upon where in your body the therapist finds the fascia restricted. If it is restricted through the neck to the arm, he/she may apply a very gentle traction to the arm, very slowly moving the arm through range as restrictions are released. If it is restricted in the back (more superficial than deep) he may apply a very gentle stretch on the skin across the back, with the use of two hands. If the thoracic inlet, deep transverse fascia is suspected of being restricted, the therapist may place one hand on the upper back and one over the collarbone area in front and apply extremely gentle pressure.
A key to the success of myofascial release treatments is to keep the pressure and stretch extremely mild. Muscle tissue responds to a relatively firm stretch, but this is not the case with fascia. Remember the collagenous fibers of fascia are extremely tough and resistant to stretch. In fact, it is estimated that fascia has a tensile strength of as much as 2000 pounds per square inch. (No wonder when it tightens, it can cause pain.)
However, it has been shown that under a small amount of pressure (applied by a therapist's hands) fascia will soften and begin to release when the pressure is sustained over time. This can be likened to pulling on a piece of taffy with only a small, sustained pressure.
Another important aspect of myofascial release techniques is holding the technique long enough. The therapeutic affect will begin to take place after holding a gentle stretch and following the tissue threedimensionally with skilled, sensitive hands.
Myofascial Release is gentle, but it has profound effects upon the body tissues. Do not let the gentleness deceive you. You may leave after the first treatment feeling like nothing happened. Later (even a day later) you may begin to feel the effects of the treatment.
In general, acute cases will resolve with a few treatments. The longer the problem has been present, generally the longer it will take to resolve the problem. Many chronic conditions (that have developed over a period of years) may require three to four months of treatments three times per week to obtain optimal results. Experience indicates that fewer than two treatments per week will often result in fascial tightness creeping back to the level prior to the last treatment. Range of motion and stretching exercise given to you will, however, keep this regression between treatments minimal.
Frequently there is increased pain for several hours to a day after treatment, followed by remarkable improvement. Often remarkable improvement is noted immediately during or after a treatment. Sometimes new pains in new areas will be experienced. There is sometimes a feeling of lightheadedness or nausea. Sometimes a patient experiences a temporary emotion change. All of these are normal reactions of the body to the profound, but positive, changes that have occurred by releasing fascial restrictions.
It is felt that release of tight tissue is accompanied by release of trapped metabolic waste products in the surrounding tissue and blood stream. We highly recommend that you "flush your system" by drinking a lot of fluid during the course of your treatments, so that reactions like nausea and lightheadedness will remain minimal or nil.
If patients have any questions or concerns that arise concerning myofascial release, they should be encouraged to discuss them with the therapist.
About the Therapist
Lisa is also continuing her education in the field of Naturopathy, where she plans to obtain a Doctorate. She currently holds a B.S. in Natural Health, via The Clayton College of Natural Health and an A.A. in Communications from the College of Southern Maryland.
Lisa is concerned with general homeostasis, incorporating the body as a whole system and providing treatment plans as such. It is her goal to help and heal one person at a time, as well as to promote a healthy way of life. She is fascinated and endeared with the human spirit, mind, body and the fascia that contains it. Lisa is a member of and insured through the AMTA.
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