Myofascial Release techniques have only been widely used since the 1980’s as before this the word Myofascial in massage was in Myofascial Trigger Point Therapy to aid muscular dysfunction and reduce pain. In 1983 Dr. Travell wrote the book “Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual” to help other therapists find the key areas in the fascia and muscles that can reduce tension.
The word Myofascial comes from the combination of “Myo” meaning muscle and “Fascial” meaning fascia, the connective tissue that connects muscles to other muscles and some muscles to bone. As the connective tissue is found all over the body, using Myofascial Release on one part of the body will affect another part of the body as it is all connected and altering the structure of one area will help alter other areas.
Fascia is found all over the body and can become very tense along with the muscles if not treated and will become
dehydrated causing a huge strain on the joints and will result in an altered structure in the body. The most common areas of fascia found to cause a lot of problems are in the lateral part of the thigh or the Iliotibial Tract, in the lower back known as the Thoraco-Lumbar fascia and in the upper neck or Occipital area of the skull.
While Myofascial Release is a very effective tool for a therapist to possess, it is actually quite a straightforward technique to carry out as long as you know your anatomy. To perform such a technique will involve using the palms or fingers, or for greater pressure using the knuckles, fists or elbows to penetrate deeper into the fascia. The therapist will apply effleurage strokes in different directions on the fascia, either along the length of the tissue or across the fibres to break down the tension. For a greater affect, some friction techniques can be carried out on the fascia by using the fingers, knuckles or elbows to pinpoint more tense areas of tissue.
This is where Myofascial Release starts to merge with Trigger Point Therapy pinpointing exact areas of discomfort and as that discomfort decreases, the tension in that area will decrease, thus having a releasing affect on the muscles, fascia and joints in the area. Trigger Points can be found all over the body with a lot of them being found in the neck shoulders and back. On palpating the point, pain can be felt in different area, for example a lot of trigger points in the shoulders can cause radiating pain down into the arms or trigger points in the neck can cause pain in the head. Trigger Points can be palpated for up to 2 minutes with a constant pressure being applied. Once the feeling can only be felt in the area being palpated and the radiating pain has dispersed then the point can be released. During the 2 minutes if needed, the therapist will ask to score the pain out of 10 several times to see if the pain is decreasing, if the pain isn’t decreasing then the point should be released immediately.
Myofascial Release technique is widely known as one of the best techniques to use on clients, that is why now it is included in various types of massage treatments by therapists as well as being used by Osteopaths, Chiropractors and Physiotherapists as part of their treatment methods.