Myofascial release, sometimes referred to as myofacial release, is a specialized type of bodywork utilized to treat a variety of soft tissue problems. It is designed to free the body from chronic postural patterns, allowing for ease of movement, release of chronic tension and enhanced body awareness.
In order to conceptualize myofascial release, it is helpful to have a basic understanding of the anatomy and physiology of fascia. Fascia is a thin membrane of connective tissue that wraps around the organs, muscles and each muscle fiber. If any of these structures are injured or have scar tissue, the inherent movements of the body can be restricted and dysfunction may occur.
The fascial system is one continuous network of interrelated structures. Therefore, pain and dysfunction can occur in areas far away from the original location of injury. For instance, it is not uncommon for women who have C-section scars to experience lower back pain or a sense of pulling all the way up to the neck and shoulders. You can visualize this by grabbing on to your shirt and bunching it up or twisting the material near the navel. Notice that you will feel the fabric pull in all sorts of directions. This is how the fascia works.
Our Therapeutic Approach to Myofascial Release
Massage Therapy of Oak Park, often in partnership with physical therapists and osteopaths in Chicagoland, provides a proven approach to myofascial release. We gently engage the soft tissue (e.g., skin, muscles and organs) in order to support the body’s natural healing process and release restrictions that cause chronic pain.
Who Benefits from Myofascial Release
Myofascial release is an effective way to treat a variety of conditions such as:
- Chronic back, neck, shoulder and lower back pain
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Chronic headaches and migraines
- Myofascial pain dysfunction
- Orthodontia-related pain
- Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction
- Plantar fascitis
- Scar tissue
- Medial tibial stress syndrome (i.e., shin splints)
- Thoracic outlet syndrome
- Whiplash injuries
It is also an adjunctive or alternative treatment for scoliosis (i.e., curvature of the spine), interstitial cystitis and mixed connective tissue disease.
Chronic Pelvic Pain Research Indicates Manual Therapies like Myofascial Release Are Beneficial
In 2008, Rick Halle-Podell was honored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for his role as the Lead Massage Therapist in a research project studying chronic pelvic pain. This ground breaking research on the use of manual therapy to treat urologic chronic pelvic syndromes, interstitial cystitis and chronic prostitis was conducted in conjunction with Loyola University Medical Center, Northwestern University Medical Center, the Rehab Institute of Chicago, Stanford University Medical Center, University of Pennsylvania, Cleveland Clinic and William Beaumont Hospital. The research concluded that manual therapies may offer meaningful benefits to patients with chronic urologic pain and that more research in the field of massage and bodywork is needed. Read an article summarizing the research here.