How does Myofascial Release work?

Myofascial release is a bodywork technique in which the practitioner applies gentle, directional pressure to restricted fascia, to alleviate pain and restore normal muscle function.  Fascia is a connective tissue which surrounds every muscle, bone, nerve and organ in the body.  When it becomes restricted and cannot function normally, it can exert tremendous pressure on these sensitive structures, causing pain and limiting normal motion.  It has been shown in research to act like a communication network to all other areas of the body. There are multiple layers of fascia, oriented in various directions and it takes intuitive skill and training to effectively relax and realign these areas, occasionally requiring a more vigorous approach or special tools.  Myofascial release can be “passive”, in which the patient remains completely relaxed, or “active”, in which the patient participates by providing resistance as instructed.

Fascial restrictions, or trigger points can be identified by trained practitioners through touch and observation and specific anatomic knowledge, which enables them to focus their approach effectively.  Trigger points are predictable clinically, and were first documented by Janet Travell, MD in her medical text  Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction.   A massage therapist trained in myofascial work uses a slow, hands-on, stretching technique to release the restricted areas.  Several sessions, along with targeted exercise and other modalities, are generally required to achieve a lasting result.

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