Myofascial Release MFR has existed in various forms for many years. However, the modality has recently gained influence due to scientific research and the use of electron microscopes. This research has enabled therapists to refine their work and to further understand the nature of the connective tissue and fascial system and the important role it plays in health.
As the journey into the human body continues, new discoveries are being made to highlight the likes of MFR as a primary treatment for physical and emotional issues.
What is it?
Myofascial (pronounced Myo fashal ) is derived from the Latin words ‘myo’ for muscle and ‘fascia’ for band. Fascia, sometimes called fibrous bands or connective tissue, is a 3D continuous web of microscopic holl ow tubules that extends without interruption from the top of the head to the tip of the toes. Within these hollow tubules are continuous fibres of elastin and collagen surrounded by a fluid called the ground substance. This network also provides the instant and continuous communication between each and every cell of our body.
What does it do?
Fascia surrounds, infuses and protects every other tissue, tendon, muscle, bone, ligament and organ of the body. In healthy conditions the fascial s ystem is relaxed and wavy in configuration. This provides a cushioning and supportive mechanism allowing us to move safely without restriction or pain. Collagen and elastin, fascias two main components, allow it to be very strong yet have a high degree of flexibility. Fascia is also dynamic in nature, it responds to internal and external forces applied on it meeting the resistance in order to protect.
How does it affect us?
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 per square inch, crushing nerves, blood and lymphatic vessels and further creating tension on adjacent pain-sensitive structures and those along the fascial pull.
How does it work?
Fascia can be described like a 3D sweater, when the fascial network is traumatised it is pulled and twisted out of alignment rather like a pull in the sweater. Therefore, if the fascia has tightened creating bands of tension three dimensionally throughout the body resulting in symptoms distant to the injury then all the appropriate localised treatments will produce limited or temporary results.
How do we find out about it?
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 healthcare treats the symptom, MFR with it’s whole body approach treats the cause at the deepest level.
How do you work with it?
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.
What does a therapist do?
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 though 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 a minimum of 3 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.