So, how does myofascial release therapy compare to physical therapy – if there is any comparison?
Good question. We’re pleased you have enough interest to ask, because too many patients tend to confuse these two. Both share the goals of eliminating chronic pain, improving mobility, and boosting well-being. This is where their similarities end.
In this blog, your dedicated Southwest Physical Therapy answers some frequently-asked questions on physiotherapy versus myofascial release therapy, explaining how they differ, including in their individual, multi-prong benefits. We also help you decipher which is best for your particular situation.
What is Physical Therapy?
Physical therapy, or physiotherapy, is the treatment by manual and physical methods such as exercise, massage, heat treatment, of medical conditions, deformity, injury, and disease, instead of by surgery or drugs. It often has incredible results – helping to mobilize joints and strengthen surrounding muscles in the treated area following injury or surgery. But, it very often happens to be the case where physical therapy alone is not the complete, standalone solution to the problem at hand, and so it is frequently supplemented with other forms of treatment – whether traditional or alternative – and with medications as well.
Many patients come to us in desperation after physiotherapy fails to fully resolve their problem. They had spent 65 dollars on a session and came away with a printed sheet of paper and a generic set of exercises that could’ve been obtained from the web – or followed and learned on YouTube.
That might be lending some physical therapists a disservice. There are good ones and bad ones just like with just about everything in this imperfect world. No matter how dedicated you are and how passionately you truly wish to heal the patient, if you’re just a regular physical therapist not specialized in myofascial release, those types of exercise and “massages” simply are not independently effective in releasing fascial restrictions.
Physical therapy is advised when you need to activate atrophied muscles or learn to walk again – in other words, just like the name implies, where PHYSICAL (activity) is called for. So physical therapy is indeed invaluable when you need muscle activation exercises.
If you are suffering from complex or chronic pain that’s been occurring for a while – well past the time when your old injuries have healed –, then you definitely – ABSOLUTELY – need myofascial release therapy. Myofascial release therapy digs deep into the root cause of your problem, your chronic pain and/or restricted range of motion, and prompts your body to fix it, to fix itself naturally and organically, without the need of you having to perform physical therapy exercises.
Chronic pain is disabling; the associated reduction or lack of mobility it elicits can become paralyzing – not just physically, but more so mentally as well. When a person’s depressed, all the bad things just seem to magnify themselves while the opposite occurs with the good things – so it makes any existing pain feel much worse. Chronic pain triggers the fight-or-flight mechanism in your system – bombarding your bloodstream with those darn stress hormones. Your muscles tense like a potto, as a reaction of their defense mechanism for the overdose of stress hormones. Stressed-out shoulders follow your nervous system’s direction until becoming a vicious circle of rock-hard, inflexible myofascial tissue in the middle.
Traditional physical therapists lack the specialized training to work the mind-body connection.
How is myofascial release therapy different?
Myofascial tissue is a thin, strong connective tissue arranged in a web-like structure made of elastin fibers and collagen, a fibrous connective tissue that is suspended in a fluid called ground substance and extending all over your body to protect and provide support to your organs, bones, and muscles. In simple terms, it is what helps us keep our skin on.
There’ve been times, for instance, when patients with chronic pain in their neck, back and different joints in that area of their body had thought that it was due to problems with their bicep muscle; but we discovered it was due to a restriction in their fascia, addressed it with myofascial release therapy, and Voilà they were new again. There sometimes was the case that it was a trigger point in their shoulder due to the chronic stress they experienced within the year. Those are situations where it’s a myofascial release therapist that proves helpful and not a physical therapist. A physical therapist there would have been a waste of time and money.
Even on TV and the movies, wherever there’s magic there’s at least some measure of mystery. Same with Myofascial release therapy because it is a magical thing that harbors some mystery, So much so that, for instance, a restricted fascia is undetectable by way of X-rays, MRIs, and the like. The effects of a released fascia is a thing of absolute magic the heavenly results produced!. When chronic pain encounters a just-released fascia, it offers no resistance other than to behave as if it had only been forgotten or neglected. It’s as if chronic pain was a lost child and myofascial release is its beloved mamma and it tells it “Come home to momma” and the pain happily, eagerly obliges right away. In any case, it’s no mystery to us because we’re specialists who understand it perfectly. But to regular physical therapists and doctors in medicine (MDs) it’s a shamefully ignored ignorance.
A person can survive with one kidney, and continue to eat well without a gallbladder but, what about the scar tissue left behind after surgery? Why ignore it when there’s help for it.
Myofascial release therapy simply is a different but effective approach that provides results other treatments can’t where other treatments can’t go. It’s a medical success with its unique perspective.
Doesn’t it sound great? You can’t ask for much more if you have chronic pain and/or limited range of motion, for you get the results you need at an affordable price and with no side effects. Wowww! Go for it, Champ! Southwest Physical Therapy offers you your FREE consultation by phone and in person, so all our new patients can talk about myofascial release therapy with us and we can completely explain everything in detail and answer all questions. Before we even touch you you will know how you will heal with our myofascial release techniques.