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Fascia and Myofascial Release

If you’ve ever experienced deep muscular pain or ‘knots’ in various areas of the body, you may have been told it is related to the fascia, a connective tissue within the body.

What is Fascia?

Fascia is a specialized system that is similar in appearance to a spider’s web. It’s densely woven within the body, covering and connecting muscles, bone, nerves, arteries, and veins as well as all of the body’s internal organs. The fascial system covers the body from head to toe and holds the human body in place, so we don’t collapse into a pile of mush!

Fascia, like all human tissue, can become restricted or inflamed after trauma or surgical procedures. Many people who suffer pain or lack of motion have been told it is a result of fascial restrictions, adhesions or scar tissue.

Typically, myofascial pain is diagnosed from palpable trigger points.  These feel like hard, stiff areas within the outer layers of the skin and muscles.  When pressed, these trigger points often reproduce a familiar painful sensation.  What most likely is happening in this situation has nothing to do with the myofascial system but is a response to an inflamed sensory nerve in the skin.

How do I Know if the Pain I Feel is Treatable?

All pain in the soft tissues can present similarly.  Regardless of the painful mechanism, treatment principles are the same. Symptoms that might sound familiar are:

  • Persistent and worsening pain
  • Muscle and connective tissue which is sensitive to the touch
  • Difficulty sleeping due to pain and stiffness
  • Deep aching pain that can refer to various regions far from initial symptom site

What is Myofascial Release?

Myofascial Release is a manual therapy technique often used during massage therapy sessions. Although the term myofascial release implies the therapist is directly changing the fascial tissues, this has not been supported with quality research.  A more plausible explanation is the technique creates a safe and comfortable sensation for the client in their painful area(s) which can help to alleviate symptoms.

During myofascial release, a professional therapist locates the areas that feel stiff or fixed (rather than flexible and elastic) and will work with the client to change the sensation of the area. While the specific area targeted by your massage therapist may not feel like the “point of pain”, it may be the location causing muscle and joint restriction. Working the area with gentle manual pressure and/or stretching and movement can help ‘loosen’ up these restricted areas, increasing movement and reducing pain.

How You can Attain Myofascial Release at Home

While having a professional massage therapist work on your muscles to help alleviate pain is a good course of action, there are simple yoga positions that can also help too. While it’s best to ask the advice of your massage therapist as to which position or stretch will work best for your unique situation, these can help you relieve discomfort in between sessions.

Reclined Butterfly

On the ground, line up a cushioned bolster or pillow with the spine and lay back with the soles of the feet together, knees falling open. Rest your hands comfortably by your side.

Supported Child’s Pose

On your bed or a yoga mat, come to a kneeling position. Place a bolster or pillow on the back of your legs, then sit down and bow forward, bringing your forehead to the ground. Your arms can rest alongside your body.

Sphinx Pose

On a yoga mat, lie down on your belly, legs stretched out behind you. Rest your forearms on the ground, with your elbows under your shoulders, coming into a gentle backbend.

Supported Bridge Pose

Start by lying on your back on a yoga mat, feet placed on the floor and hip-distance apart. Raise your hips and place a block, bolster, or a few cushions underneath your pelvis and lower back.

If you feel like you might have pain related to myofascial constrictions, it’s important to see a professional and not self-diagnose. Our professional massage therapists can discuss your symptoms with you and help develop a plan to ensure you begin to experience less pain and to help you release tension in the body.

They can also help advise on some exercises and techniques you can try at home to help you manage pain and discomfort in between sessions.

Our experienced massage therapists are here to help. Book your next appointment and start feeling better today.