My time as a therapist so far has introduced me to a lot of methods that a) I had never heard of before and b) would not have entertained had I not developed an anatomical and physiological knowledge base and opened my mind to further alternative therapies. I have met a great deal of people who work in the very broad spectrum of physical therapy, some of whom have become very influential in my life. I was introduced to myofascial release by one such person who uses it as part of her daily treatment plans for clients, including myself, with numerous different issues. It is a technique that is up and coming and so not everyone has heard of it so far ( my mums reaction to it - "wow, that's a mouth full" ) but I strongly believe that it will become a commonly used term and treatment over time.
Upon starting my Remedial and Sports Massage Diploma I learnt a couple of myofascial techniques and became slightly dubious about what could be entailed in a full Diploma on purely this one method. I was soon reassured, not to mention surprised at the difference in approach that is involved compared to the more strong willed style used within my current training.
The theory behind Myofascial Release is that fascia must be treated gently. The above video "The Fuzz Speech" by Gil Hedley is a brilliant description of what fascia is and how it can create problems for any of us. Fascia is protective fibres that surround muscles, organs , nerves, joints, bones in fact everything in our bodies. It wraps around the body in all directions from head to toe and can build up too far if allowed to, especially around scars and injuries, it then begins to restrict movement, strength and can even cause pain. If the fascia is treated roughly it will strengthen and grow as it reacts to protect the body from potential harm. Therefore fascia must be treated gently and slowly to encourage it to relax and breakdown.
Gentle pressure and traction is applied by the therapist onto an area of tension and then you wait. It can take 5 minutes, or sometimes longer, of maintaining this before the fascia begins to loosen. Often the client will not feel the effects at this point other than the therapists hands beginning to move across the body. As the fascia relaxes it smooths out and the hands will slowly slide over the skin. As the therapist, I detect very little movement in the skin to begin with, there is no cushioned effect or bounce it feels tight. My hands must be relaxed in order for me to detect what is going on just under the skin. Slowly I will begin to feel what is called the piezzo electric effect which is like a small electrical current flowing underneath my hands, there may be shaking or tiny pops and/or heat felt as well. As the fascia gives in my hands will sink into the tissues further and start to travel across the body in the direction of that particular part of the fascia. The release allows the muscle or whatever it was restricting to relax and function more efficiently in the absence of any pain that the pressure may have been causing.
The clients experience is very relaxing and often they become quite sleepy. A big difference can be felt afterwards including relief from tension and pain. It is important to drink water afterwards to maintain hydration within the fascia so that it does not become dehydrated and seize back up again. Water will flush out the toxins as well meaning that the body is able to function at a better level.
The technique is ideal for those who experience chronic pain such as fibromyalgia sufferers because contact is so cautiously made. It is also good for headaches and long term postural issues that may not have improved with more intense methods.