Myofascial (pronounced Myo fashal) is derived from the Latin words ‘myo’ for muscle and ‘fascia’ for band. Fascia, an embryological connective tissue, is a 3D continuous web of elastin and collagen fibres surrounded by a viscous fluid called the ground substance. These two fibre types allow it to be very strong yet have a high degree of flexibility.
Fascia surrounds, infuses and protects every other tissue, tendon, muscle, bone, ligament and organ of the body. In healthy conditions the fascial system is relaxed and wavy in configuration. This provides a cushioning and supportive mechanism allowing us to move safely without restriction or pain. Fascia is also dynamic in nature, it responds to internal and external forces applied to it meeting the resistance in order to protect.
Research has proven that fascia, like muscle, has the ability to contract and relax and plays a major role in mobility and stability of joints. Fascia acts as a tensegrity (tension and integrity) model where tension and resistance rely on each other for stability and function.
Following all physical and emotional trauma and through poor posture, fascia scars and hardens in the affected site and along the tension lines imposed on it. This causes the fascial network to lose its cushioning mechanism and internal structures become pulled out of alignment. This, in turn, creates an abnormal pressure, up to 2,000 pounds (Katake 1961) per square inch, crushing nerves, blood and lymphatic vessels and further creating tension on adjacent pain-sensitive structures and those along the fascial pull.
Fascial restrictions do not show up on CAT scans, MRI’s or X Rays therefore many patients are suffering unresolved physical and emotional pain due to undiagnosed fascial trauma. Conditions are a label for a symptom. Traditional health care treats the symptom, MFR with its whole body approach treats the cause at the deepest level.
Myofascial Release Therapy, like many alternative therapies, promotes the philosophy that the mind and body work together to maintain health. Effectively this supports the understanding that the mind and body are one and the same. The body has the ability to remember postural positions, actions and emotions without the brain reminding it to do so. Throughout the body’s fascial system flow microscopic cells containing energy which have the ability to retain memory.
It could also be said that our unconscious mind is not restricted to the brain but flows freely through our body within the fascial system. Simply put, our body remembers how to lift a cup, drive a car and walk without thinking.
If our body can remember positive actions and emotions then it must be true that we can also remember negative ones. Memories, both physical and emotional, can be triggered by a state of mind, context and by body position.
Sometimes memories can become locked into the fascial system and manifest themselves as percieved physical pain
Therapists are taught to feel and stretch slowly into the fascial network. Collagen means glue producer so therapists are taught to feel for this glue like texture which when dense, thick or hard defines a fascial restriction. The MFR technique is very different to that of massaging muscles, tendons and the ligaments of the body. A time component also exists, coupled with the fluidity of the therapists hands in applying pressure and moving through each and every fascial restriction. The time element is a vital factor, the fascia cannot be forced as it will naturally meet that force in return. Hence the MFR therapist provides a sustained, gentle, pressure for five to eight minutes allowing the fascia to elongate naturally and return to it’s normal resting length restoring health and providing results that are both measurable and functional.
Sometimes memories can become locked into the fascial system and manifest themselves in physical pain. With the help of MFR the physical and emotional content of any injury, literal or symbolic, can be addressed in a safe and gentle way. MFR also treats the injury at source allowing the patient to heal at the deepest level.
Myofascial Release Therapy is a specialised physical therapy that affects and releases the restrictions within the fascial network.
The therapy is an art form. The MFR therapist not only takes into consideration what they see in the patient’s postural assessment but works directly with what they feel and sense from palpating and treating the body.
Even though the patient may not feel much happening the experienced therapist can actually feel the fascial restrictions, where they go to and subsequently feels the release of those restrictions during the session.