What is Myofascial Release Therapy?

Myofascial release therapy, or MFR, is a form of massage therapy that addresses muscular shortness and tightness.

Myofascial release therapy is beneficial in treating a number of symptoms associated with short, contracted muscles and tissues.

Myofascial therapy is especially useful following an injury, or to treat ongoing pain not responsive to medications. MFR is able to address inflexibility, pain, and imbalances in many areas of the body including the back, hips, and shoulders.

Common conditions treated by myofascial release include migraines, TMJ (a joint disorder most often detected by your dentist), and in some cases, fibromyalgia.

The pain profile of symptoms most suitable for myofascial release present as:

  • Restricted motion as a result of tightened tissues that have pulled the body out of alignment.

Individuals will often display a visible preference in favoring one leg over the other or one shoulder, resulting in an imbalance.

  • Pain that is the result of excessive pressure placed on the joints or muscles.
  • Specific pain in any area of the body (headaches, backaches).

How is Myofascial Pain Caused?

Myofascial pain is the result of pain generated from two different primary sources: skeletal and connective pain or pain resulting from damaged myofascial tissue (also referred to as myofascial trigger points).

In both cases, the pain that the patient is experiencing is a result of compromised blood flow to the affected areas, leading to contraction of muscles and tissues.

The goal of MFR is to stretch and loosen the affected structures by treating the body’s muscle tissue directly-this tissue is referred to as fascia. As fascia is slowly loosened and stretched, muscles experience a release and a drastic decrease in pain and contraction.

Who is Myofascial Release Therapy Provided by?

Myofascial therapy is practiced by many types of healthcare and alternative wellness providers, once certification and training have been obtained. A licensed massage therapist certified in Myofascial Release Therapy can provide the service, as well as an MFR certified physician such as an osteopath.

Myofascial therapy sessions follow a similar intake and treatment process as physical therapy one might receive following an operation. The intake appointment will focus on locating areas of pain and restricted tissue and detecting any imbalances or loss of motion present in the body.

Treatments thereafter will typically:

  • Last between 30 and 50 minutes, often longer to address any muscles or tissues resistant to therapy
  • Be performed daily or every few days (2-3x weekly)
  • Be performed at a wellness center or outpatient health clinic
  • Be performed over the course of several weeks or several months, to be determined based on the status of injury or disability

The specific methods applied to various areas of the body will differ, but generally involve a slow and intense pressure applied to the affected area by the practitioner over an extended period of time, or sustained forms of stretching performed by the therapist.

Progress from myofascial release therapy is assessed by increased flexibility in motion demonstrated by the patient, or a noticeable reduction and relief of pain.

Addidng Myofascial Release Therapy to an Existing Pain Management Plan

Myofascial release therapy can serve as an adjunct therapy in combination with other treatment methods to address pain and loss of motion. Patients receiving MFR might also add pain management measures to their treatment plan including:

  • The use of over the counter pain medication such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen
  • Applied heat to specific areas of the body presenting with pain, or using ice therapy to treat swollen areas
  • At home stretching exercises that increase flexibility and maintain range of motion or aerobic exercise

Myofascial therapy has also demonstrated an increased benefit when added to other forms of treatment including acupuncture, physical therapy, and occupational therapy.

Prior to an operation, MFR has been shown to improve the skeletal structure and muscle alignment of patients, potentially resulting in a better outcome.

Myofascial release therapy is able to provide pain relief and prepare patients for more intensive forms of therapy or training by addressing tissue and muscle tightness in specific areas of the body.

Practiced as a standalone pain management method or in conjunction with other treatment options, myofascial release can assist patients in achieving a quicker recovery time and a faster return to normal functioning.

To learn more about myofascial release therapy at the Gentle Wellness Center, schedule a consultation with one of our friendly experts today!