Myofascial release is a type of massage therapy technique which involves stretching and releasing of the soft tissues in order to balance the body muscles. The term myofascia is derived from the Latin words for muscle (myo) and band (fascia). Fascia is the soft tissue portion that surrounds every part of the body. It plays a major role in maintaining normal metabolic process and providing structural integrity to the body. It also protects the body cells from the invading pathogens.
The main objective of this therapy is to manipulate the fascia for combating muscle pain, healing injury, managing stress, increasing flexibility, and improving body posture. It mainly focuses on treating the trigger points that are located in the muscles. Hence, the therapy is also known as myofascial trigger point therapy. There are various techniques in this therapy, each of which is intended for restoring the health of fascia.
Techniques for Myofascial Release Therapy
The main approach of every technique is more or less similar. A physical therapist locates the restricted fascia portion and applies light stretch to the area. Pressure application is repeated for several times, until the restricted fascia can be stretched properly. The same procedure is followed for the treatment of other sore and restricted spots. Based on the therapy approach, there are two release techniques, namely, direct and indirect release.
According to this technique, the functionality of the restricted fascia is improved by using low force directly on the affected spots. For stretching the trigger points, the physical therapist may apply pressure of a few kilogram by using elbows, forearm, knuckles, or other therapy tools. This direct technique involves the manipulation of deep tissues by pressure application.
Under this method, the physician first locates the barrier within the soft tissue, holds it with pressure for 50-60 seconds and releases it gently. As per the patient's medical problem, direct release may be conducted on the face, head, neck, trunk, cervical portion, pelvis, thighs, and feet.
For performing the indirect technique, the therapist uses fingers to lightly press on the restricted fascia for about 4 minutes, after which the pressure is released slowly. This way, the buildup of muscle tension is balanced. Very often, therapeutic pulse is observed during the procedure of indirect therapy.
These days, physical therapist conducts these techniques by using fitness accessories, like, foam rollers, flexible bags, and therapy balls. Overall, myofascial release therapy is a gentle and safe procedure for body relaxation. As more people are engaged into this therapy, certain self-performing techniques are suggested to carry out at home. However, prior to doing any self techniques, one should always consult a therapist regarding the positions, activities, and their effects.