How does Myofascial Release work?
Published on: September 03, 2021

Published By: Southwest Physical Therapy

Myofascial Release

Myofascial pain syndrome is often treated with a type of physical therapy called myofascial release. Tightness and sensitivity in your myofascial tissues are what cause the chronic pain disorder called myofascial pain syndrome. The muscles throughout your body are surrounded and supported by these tissues. There are specific points within your myofascial tissues called “trigger points” where the pain usually originates from.

The tension and tightness in the trigger points are eased by myofascial release to  greatly reduce the patient’s pain, sometimes eliminating it completely. Understanding what trigger point is responsible for the pain is not always easy. It is very difficult to localize pain to a specific trigger point. This is why, instead of using myofascial release at single points, it is often used over a broad area of tissue and muscle.

How Myofascial Release Works

It is during a massage therapy session that most myofascial release treatments take place. It can be offered by people who are trained to specialize in it, such as some physical therapists, traditional medical practitioners, and chiropractors. 

Your myofascia will gently be massaged by your specialist who will feel for tightened or stiff areas. Normal myofascia feels elastic and pliable. Your therapist applies light manual pressure to begin stretching and massaging the areas that feel rigid. The therapist then aids the supportive sheath and tissue in releasing pressure and tightness. On the same trigger point and other trigger points the process is repeated multiple times by the therapist until the therapist feels the full release of the tension.  

Myofascial release therapy treats the whole body, releasing the restricted fascia that is tense, so it can go back to its normal, natural, healthy state. This prompts your body to heal itself of the chronic pain and restricted range of motion that was being caused by the restriction in your fascia. The area where you feel the pain most prominently or where the pain originates may not be near the areas where the specialist is working. The broader network of muscles that might be causing your pain are worked on by myofascial release. It releases trigger points across a broad section of your muscular system in an attempt to reduce tension throughout your body. Your chronic pain will subside and you’ll be able to move more freely, with more flexibility and range.

Who Might Benefit From Myofascial Release?

This type of very effective therapy tends to greatly benefit patients who suffer from myofascial pain syndrome and those with fibromyalgia. Myofascial release also offers relief to those who are experiencing chronic headaches. Headaches may be reduced with gently massaging on tightened muscles in and around the head and neck.

Some people with venous insufficiency are also candidates for myofascial release. Venous insufficiency is when blood pools in the deep veins of the leg. The veins in your legs are eventually damaged when the blood pool stretches during venous insufficiency. In the leg that is affected by venous insufficiency you may experience a painful, aching sensation. To reduce the pain and pooling that venous insufficiency causes, myofascial release can be used in conjunction with other treatments as well. But EVERYONE with chronic body pain anywhere in their body, as well as those with restricted range of motion, benefits from myofascial release.

Are There Any Risks in Myofascial Release Therapy?

Myofascial release therapy is a massage-like therapy with very few risks. Whether easing back pain is your goal or you’re just trying to relax, you will certainly get great results from myofascial release for the reduction or elimination of pain.

However, the massage-like therapy applied to prompt myofascial release during myofascial release therapy isn’t ideal for the following folks:

  • Those who are taking medications that thin their blood
  • Those with deep vein issues such as deep vein thrombosis
  • Those with weak or fragile bones
  • Those with painful wounds from injuries or burns
  • Those with broken bones or fractures

In the rarest of instances, myofascial release therapy may cause:

  • allergic reaction to lotions, oils, or gels, though most myofascial release therapy sessions are completely organic where none of that is necessary
  • nerve damage
  • internal bleeding
  • difficulty moving your muscles or temporary paralysis

Is Myofascial Release Supported by Science?

Chiropractic and massage-like body manipulation have been looked at time and again by many different studies. However, the studies that have looked at myofascial release specifically have been few. This is because from practitioner to practitioner there is a difference in therapy styles. This is why it has been difficult to come by broad medical support, since more traditional treatments are more likely to be recommended by doctors who don’t know better yet. But the studies that have been done on myofascial release have all shown its great results and benefits. It has proved to be both effective and essential.

There are many patients with short-term or chronic back pain who are open to trying myofascial release therapy to see if it provides any relief because of the relative lack of risk. When you’re trying to avoid surgery, this is especially true.

Consult Your Doctor and a Myofascial Release Therapist 

If you’re interested in trying myofascial release therapy, talk to your physical therapist or doctor. This type of alternative back pain treatment has great success. However, just as you would with any type of medical treatment, you must be aware of the potential dangers and risks. Contact Southwest Physical Therapy and we will take very good care of you. Goodbye chronic pain and limited mobility!

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