Sunday 20 May 2012

Myofascial release

On April 15th i was fortunate to attend an excellent course on a subject i had become increasingly aware of and very intrigued by.  Having worked as a massage therapist including deep tissue for four years i had become aware of the feeling of the muscles pulling to one side or feeling very restricted and wanted to know more.  Through out attending various courses such as soft tissue release, muscle energy techniques and advanced deep tissue techniques, i had developed a deep understanding of the body and the different way that muscles move and how they can tend to pull to one side due to restrictions.

However it wasn't until the myofascial release course that i was able to put another piece of the jigsaw together and learn more about these restrictions and this tightening or pulling to the side.  I often describe massage as a game of Jenga, where you are having to work the muscles and each move you make can have a knock on effect on the next muscle, so the next peace of the jenga game!  The body is far more complex than most people realise and requires a variety of techniques to effectively work the muscles. The fascia of the body is like this and due to its connective nature the restriction of the fascia in one area can impact on the next area.

The myofascial release course has enabled me to add another skill to the toolbox and we have been seeing effective results when integrated with both deep tissue and Swedish massage.

So what is myofascial release?

The whole body is made up of this connective tissue called fascia, literally from head to toe, covering the whole body just like your skin.  As it covers the whole body you can see how restriction in one area can have a knock on effect on another area, when this fascia becomes tight it can cause restrictions.  In the normal healthy person, the fascia is relaxed and wavy around the body. It has the ability to stretch and move without restriction. When we experience physical trauma, scarring, or inflammation, however, the fascia loses its pliability. It becomes tight, restricted and a source of tension to the rest of the body.  When this fascia become tight and restricted it can affect the muscles ability to move and perform it's full role, this then has a knock on effect on other muscles, flexibility and movement.

The aim of myofascial release is to unwind and free up this fascia through soft tissue techniques, through gentle yet effective stretching techniques, in order to relieve pain and increase movement within the fascia.  The myofascial release is carried out without oil in order to allow the fascia to stretch and gradually move whilst still firmly holding it within the stretch.  The stretch is held for around two minutes in order to ensure that the stretch is effective and happens on a deeper level rather than as a temporary issue.

At Drift Away these techniques are incorporated within the massage, usually at the beginning before the use of oil in order to get the best stretch and ensure that the fascia is loose so work can begin on the rest of the muscles.

At times myofascial release can feel a little intense but often it feels like it is doing very little but the effects are very surprising.  Having had the treatment myself i was surprised by how loose i felt afterwards and a little achy despite feeling that not much had happened!

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