Myofascial Release is a relatively new addition to the medical world. And it is just what I do at the Myofascial Release and Wellness Center in North Kingsville, Ohio. I help people get out of pain and back into life! But, because it differs from traditional therapies, many people are asking “What is it?” and “How does it work?” Myofascial Release is generally an extremely mild and gentle form of manual work, but it has a profound effect upon the entire body. Because of its gentleness, many individuals wonder how it could possibly work…
Fascia is a highly specialized uninterrupted connective tissue that spans our body three-dimensionally from head to toe. Little attention has been given to this system of the body, yet it surrounds, supports, protects, divides, infuses, and communicates with every other structure in the body right down to the cellular level creating a massive, living inter-connected network…the fascial web. Pretty important tissue, am I right?!!! It is composed of two types of fibers: collagenous fibers that are very tough with little stretch giving strength, form and shape; and elastin fibers which have memory and are easily stretched (think rubber band…easily stretched, yet returns to its original shape).
Ideally, fascia is very fluid in its healthy state, continuously flowing and adapting to every movement of our body. When fascia becomes injured or when prolonged inflammation occurs, the fluid portion of fascia begins to harden and dry out. For protection, the collagen fibers begin to thicken and shorten, creating a rigid barrier. The elastin fibers become trapped, decreasing their ability to expand and contract, creating what we now know as myofascial restrictions. Because fascia extends uninterrupted throughout the body, as it scars and hardens, it can begin to put tension on adjacent structures slowly pulling the body out of alignment. Over time, your body begins to develop its own unique pattern of “kinks” and “trigger points” building upon each other and ending with a multitude of diagnoses such as, migraines, fibromyalgia, back/neck pain, sciatica, and many others. A good example is chronic low back pain; although the low back is primarily involved, the patient may also have significant discomfort in his neck and shoulder, which may then cause headaches or jaw pain. This is due to the gradual tightening of the fascia as it creeps its way up the back, eventually creating shoulder, neck and head pain. Myofascial restrictions can exert pressures of up to 2000 lbs per square inch on pain-sensitive structures in the body. Think of an elephant sitting on your sciatic nerve!! Ouch!!
This is what I do!! As taught by John F Barnes, Myofascial Release is a gentle non-invasive hands-on treatment that effectively and safely “pushes the elephant off your sciatic nerve”! Observing the body as a “whole” rather than “parts”, I address these restrictions throughout the entire body using gentle, sustained pressure into the tissue over time. This helps to rehydrate the fascial system, restoring elasticity, flexibility, strength, and health to your entire body. Sustained pressure into the tissue helps to soften it (think of how your hand would melt a stick of butter), while sustained stretch of the tissue is gently applied elongating the collagen and elastin fibers (think of a rope slowly unwinding). A key to the success of myofascial release is to keep the pressure and the stretch gentle, following the fascia three dimensionally as it releases. It has been shown that under a small amount of pressure, fascia will soften and begin to release when the pressure is sustained over a period of time, usually a minimum of 3 to 5 minutes. So do not let the gentleness deceive you! During the treatment, you may feel as if nothing has happened, however many leave my table feeling better with a sense of lightness and relaxation. Over the next 24-48 hours, soreness, increased pain, general malaise, and changes of emotion are all possible temporary effects post treatment. These are normal reactions to releasing the fascial restrictions; and with additional treatments, positive changes will continue to occur decreasing pain and improving mobility.
In general, acute cases could resolve within a few treatments, however the longer the problem has been present, the longer it will take to resolve. Many chronic conditions, developing over years, may require several months of treatment to obtain optimal results. The sessions are structured to your unique needs, safely and effectively leading you back to a pain free life.