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Myofacial Release

Myofascial Release Therapy?

Myofascial release is a form of soft tissue therapy intended for pain relief and increasing range of motion. Techniques include manual massage for stretching the fascia and releasing bonds between fascia, integument, muscles, and bones are applied. The fascia is manipulated, directly or indirectly, supposedly to allow the connective tissue fibers to reorganize themselves in a more flexible, functional fashion.

The fascia is a seamless web of connective tissue that covers and connects the muscles, organs, and skeletal structures, located between the skin and the underlying structure of muscle and bone. Muscle and fascia form the myofascia system. The fascial system is totally one structure that is present from your head to foot without any interruption.

Injuries, stress, inflammation, trauma, and poor posture can cause restriction to fascia.[citation needed] Since fascia is an interconnected web, the restriction or tightness to fascia at a place, with time can spread to other places in the body like a pull in a sweater. The goal of myofascial release is to release fascia restriction and restore its tissue health.

In medical literature, the term myofascial was used by Janet G. Travell M.D. in the 1940s referring to musculoskeletal pain syndromes and trigger points. In 1976 Dr. Travell began using the term “Myofascial Trigger Point” and in 1983 published the famous reference “Myofascial Pain & Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual”. Some practitioners use the term “Myofascial Therapy” or “Myofascial Trigger Point Therapy” referring to the treatment of trigger points, this is usually in medical-clinical sense.

Here the term Myofascial Release refers to soft tissue manipulation techniques. It has been loosely used for different manual therapy, soft tissue manipulation work (connective tissue massage, soft tissue mobilization,foam rolling, Structural Integration, strain-counterstrain etc). There are two main schools of myofascial release: the direct and indirect method.

Direct myofascial release

The direct myofascial release (or deep tissue work) method works on the restricted fascia. Practitioners use knuckles, elbows, or other tools to slowly stretch the restricted fascia by applying a few kilograms-force or tens of newtons. Direct myofascial release seeks for changes in the myofascial structures by stretching, elongation of fascia, or mobilising adhesive tissues. The practitioner moves slowly through the layers of the fascia until the deep tissues are reached.

Robert Ward suggested that the intermolecular forces direct method came from the osteopathy school in the 1920s by William Neidner, at which point it was called Fascial Twist. German physiotherapist Elizabeth Dicke developed Connective Tissue Massage (Bindegewebsmassage) in the 1920s, which involved superficial stretching of the myofascia. Dr. Ida Rolf developed Structural Integration, in the 1950s, a holistic system of soft tissue manipulation and movement education with the goal of balancing the body. She discovered that she could change the body posture and structure by manipulating the myofascial system. Rolfing is the nickname that many clients and practitioners gave this work. Since her death in 1979, various Structural Integration schools arose which have adapted her original ideas to their own needs and uses.

Until the 1990s, instruction in direct myofascial release was rarely available outside of Structural Integration or Physical Therapy training programs. Currently, however, texts and courses are offered to general bodyworkers from a Physical Therapy background, and from a Structural Integration background.

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