Myofascial Release: Microfascial Tissue

Microfascial Tissue: have you ever had cotton candy and stretched it until it looks like a spidery web? Well, that’s what the fascia that runs through your entire body resembles at the microscopic level. Picture a tough fishnet or spider web that encompasses and connects all your muscles, ligaments, bones, and other tissues. When it functions well, we move freely without pain. However, when it’s tight or shortened, muscle pain and tightness as well as other issues can result.

Fascia has the tensile weight of approximately 2,000 pounds! Your posture and ability to breathe, move, stretch, and flex is due to myofascial tissue. Fascia is sometimes referred to as “the tissue of movement.” Myofascia is also a term used in relationship to myofascial release; it refers to the muscle (myo) and surrounding tissue (fascia).

Unhealthy Fascia

Ordinarily, the fascia is pliable; it stretches and moves smoothly. However, injuries and inflammation cause the fascia to tighten, stiffen, and become inflexible. Because it weaves unbroken through the body, damage to it one part of the body can affect another part. Many conditions can damage the fascia; here a few of them:

  • Poor posture
  • Surgery
  • Frozen shoulder
  • Sports injury
  • Repetitive motion
  • Lack of exercise, especially stretching
  • Trauma, i.e., car accident
  • Inflammation
  • Arthritis
  • Stress and emotional issues

“A little-known fact is that fascia actually has the ability to contract on its own which can, in some cases, lead to muscles becoming ‘stuck’ to other muscles and structures, therefore decreasing the ability of the muscle to contract and lengthen correctly. Well informed Chiropractors and other manual therapists can work on relaxing or ‘breaking up’ these stuck areas and subsequently increasing your muscles’ ability to function using a variety of techniques.”[i] Danny Adams, D.C, ICCSP

Symptoms of Injured Myofascial Tissue

While the symptoms of injured or tight myofascial tissue can be indicative of other conditions; they include:

  • Stiffness
  • Headaches
  • Poor posture
  • Breathing issues
  • Chronic pain in muscles, back, neck, etc.
  • Poor posture
  • Decrease in flexibility
  • Muscle spasms
  • Sciatica
  • Numbness

Myofascial Release Therapy

Myofascial release focuses on trigger points and other muscular issues that limit mobility, tightness, and cause pain. The treatment is a manual therapy designed to break up scar tissue, relax muscles, and improve posture to lengthen the fascia and restore its flexibility. It can also improve joint mobility. The therapists are in effect trying to relax the network (fascia) between the muscles so they can move easily. The therapist will also provide you with exercises to encourage the fascia to relax and lengthen.

The treatment is similar to having a massage; however, myofascial release is an advanced therapy. So, seek out a physical therapist, massage therapists, or chiropractic doctors who have had training in myofascial release.

The pressure for the fascia to release can range from light to deep depending on the area of the body that is affected and trauma. Although, the patient always has control over the amount of pressure that is applied. After all, the goal is to release the myofascial tissue and not cause more tightening by creating stress during the treatment.

Remember it was mentioned earlier that damaged fascia could affect other parts of the body not directly connected because it’s like one whole web throughout the body. So, the therapist may also work on areas of the body to facilitate overall improvement. For example, she may also work on the hips even if the neck has the issue.

The myofascial release whole-body philosophy to healing is the same as other holistic curative modalities, such as Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda, and Naturopathic medicine: Where the pain originates may not be where the issue is, and the body is interconnected. So, injury in one area can affect other parts of the body.

A myofascial release appointment can last from 15 minutes to an hour, though, sessions tend to be an hour long. The number of visits needed depends on the severity of the damage, location, and the person’s response to treatment. You should notice some improvement quickly.

So, if you find that you can’t touch your toes, your golf swing feels off, your head is more forward than the rest of the body, or are having pain, you may have issues with the myofascia in your body. And you may want to consider myofascial release.

This information is for educational purposes only. It’s not intended to diagnose, treat, or recommend any form of therapy or treatment. Always, consult your medical practitioner before considering any new type of therapy.

References

Adams, Danny, D.C, ICCSP. What are myofascial and fascia? Retrieved from https://chirobeans.wordpress.com/2012/02/01/fascia-havent-you-heard-everyones-talking-about-it/

Jennings, Barry. What Is Myofascial Release?

[i] Adams, Danny, D.C, ICCSP. What are myofascial and fascia? Web.

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