Myofascial release is a hands-on bodywork technique that works on fascia with a positive understanding of the energies and emotions that shape physical health.
- Myo = muscle
- Fascia = the main connective tissue in the body
- Release = to let go, ease pressure
Fascia is the main connective tissue in the body, forming a three-dimensional web around and through all other structures. Fascia gives form and function to muscles, nerves, blood vessels, bones and organs.
Fascia is increasingly recognised by researchers and therapists alike as the body’s main source of structural support, and the means by which energy and movement is conducted and messages are communicated between body systems.
Myo + fascia refers to this new way of looking at the body. Together, myo meaning muscle, and the fascial web account for almost all of the soft tissue in the human body.
‘Release’ refers to the gentle way in which myofascial release works with the natural qualities of fascia to release snags and restrictions in the muscles and fascia, restoring balance, movement, and health.
Structurally fascia consists of protein fibres; collagen for strength and elastin for flexibility, plus a fluid ‘packing material’ which is found in all body tissues. In its normal state fascia is fluid and pliable, allowing full, pain-free movement.
However, fascia is vulnerable to trauma from accident, infection, injury, surgery, poor posture, repetitive movement, stress or, for most of us, some combination of these. This trauma causes fascia to tighten, solidify and develop restrictions. Over time these myofascial restrictions can lead to poor biomechanics, altered structural alignment, compromised blood supply and pain.
Myofascial restrictions do not show up on standard tests such as x-rays or MRI scans, which means they are rarely diagnosed as the cause of chronic pain conditions. Many people with fascial restrictions are prescribed medication such as anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants or even anti-epileptics. In some cases, surgery might be offered as a last resort.
So what is myofasical release?
Myofascial release is a gentle non-invasive bodywork technique that works deeply into the body to release the fascial restrictions that cause pain, and restore the body to pain-free balance.
On a physical level, the gentle pressure and heat from a myofascial therapist’s hands melt the fascia and release the restrictions caused by stuck fascia that has become dehydrated and hardened. As the fascia releases, so do the muscle tissue, nerves and blood vessels often stuck within it. This improves movement and balance, reduces pain, and increases circulation throughout the body.
Myofascial release also works on a physiological level to calm and reset the nervous system, which is often working in overdrive in chronic pain conditions. And it also works on an emotional level to help release and resolve emotional trauma trapped in the body, which drains energy and causes pain.
With this level of mind–body engagement, myofascial release is more than just a technique, it is an entire therapeutic approach. It has been described as the missing link in healthcare, and as the medicine for the twenty-first century, explaining and relieving chronic pain and other conditions that have left medical practitioners baffled and unable to offer practical help.