“Myofascia – the tissue of movement”
Have you heard about it?
The term ‘Myofascial Release’ might flicker some lightbulbs up in your head. If it doesn’t, prepare to be blown away because this stuff is powerful.
It’s time to lay down some (important) facts.
The term myofascial release has actually been around since the early 1950s, but the lack of research and support on the topic has kept this magnificent therapeutic philosophy out of the limelight for decades.
That’s why I’m here. To get you caught up!
So what exactly is Myofascial Release?
Myofascial Release, dubbed as MFR, is a very hands-on therapeutic approach and it’s used to do one thing:
Correct soft tissue dysfunction.
It involves the application of gentle, but sustained pressure to restore motion, eliminate pain, and improve the health and quality of your precious soft tissues.
The actual effects of Myofascial Release can easily be explained using known neurophysiologic phenomena. This is what Carol J. Manheim had to say:
“Our brains recognize our current posture, muscle tension, and movement patterns as being “normal” — not necessarily as efficient or pain free. Myofascial Release requires re-education of the central nervous system to accept the new posture and muscle tension as better and less painful.”
In the simplest of terms, myofascial release refers to the process of applying sustained pressure to your myofascia to improve the health of your soft tissues.
But before we can get a good understanding of this powerful therapy, we need to learn what exactly the fascial system is.
What the heck is Fascia?
Think of fascia as a spider’s web – deeply intertwined and covering every area of your body.
It’s absolutely everywhere.
Fascia is a seamless unit of tough connective tissue that is very densely woven, covering and connecting every muscle, bone, blood vessel, nerve, internal organ, and even the deep layers surrounding the brain and spinal cord right down to the cellular level.
Fascia is actually very strong. It has a tensile strength of over 2,000lbs. (For anyone not in the field of Mechanical Engineering, this translates to ridiculously-fucking-strong!)
If you want a great visual example of what fascia is, take particular notice next time you pull the fat and skin off a chicken. Look for that transparent, white, filmy tissue underneath the skin. That’s fascia.
In its healthy state, fascia is very neat and organized, making it incredibly flexible. It’s soft and relaxed and it can stretch and move with little restriction. It runs from the top of your head all the way down to your toes – completely continuous with no beginning or end to be found anywhere in the body.
All parts of the body are connected in some way by fascia.
But It’s continuous nature brings up an interesting property. Problems in one area of the fascial system can have an effect on another distant area. This might explain why so many people are having completely questionable pains. Pain in your neck might be caused by damaged fascia in the back.
A healthy fascial system allows you to move better. It supports and balances your body and helps you breath properly. It helps you maintain good posture and flexibility.
Most importantly, healthy fascia allow you to perform daily activities – completely pain free.
But what happens when your fascia are unhealthy? What happens when you suffer soft tissue damage?
The fact of the matter is, we don’t really take much care of our soft tissues.
Do any of these sound familiar?
- You spend too much time sitting
- You have poor habitual posture
- You’re stressed, either emotionally or physiologically
- You don’t stretch
- You perform repetitive motions
- You’ve experienced trauma (such as a fall or car accident)
- You impose a lot of stress on your tissues when you train
If any of these pertain to you, there is a very high likelihood that you have unhealthy, low-quality fascia surrounding your muscles.
Unhealthy fascia is not very pliable. Its movement is restricted. It begins to lack flexibility and introduces areas of tension throughout your body.
Unhealthy fascia tends to stick to the underside of tissue such as skin, blood vessels and nerves. What happens is that these adhesions can restrict blood circulation, nerve transmission and tissue health. They can also create biomechanical inefficiencies which can impact movement, sleep and quality of daily living.
As mentioned earlier, the continuous properties of fascia can create some bizarre pains in unforseen areas. A fall that causes fascia damage in one area of the body can cause pains in a completely different area of the body even years later.
Quite bizarre indeed.
Unhealthy or damaged fascia can cause a number of problems. See if any of these sound familiar.
- Muscle pain and spasms
- Difficulty breathing
- Poor flexibility and range of motion in joints
- Sensations of numbness
- Chronic back pain
- Chronic neck pain
- Recurring injuries
- Poor posture
There is good news, however.
There is a way to reverse the negative effects of unhealthy, tight fascia.
Myofascial Release for a Better Body
“Myofascial Release is a whole body treatment method that recognizes that tightness and restrictions in one area of the body affects the entire body.”
Myofascial release can improve the health of your fascia.
As mentioned, the purpose of myofascial release is to improve the health and quality of the fascial system. This therapy is designed to break down built up scar tissue and relax the muscle and myofascia. It restores the fascia’s flexibility and pliability, allowing it to lengthen and reorganize.
The myofascial release technique can be applied directly on the body. Practitioners who are experienced in this field of work can help restore your fascia to a healthy level by applying varying ranges of pressure. This pressure is what breaks down the scar tissue and relaxes the myofascia.
The only problem is that these treatments can be quite expensive.
There are other options, however. One in particular that we focus on at Bloom to Fit is called…
Self Myofascial Release.
Or what’s more commonly referred to as soft tissue work. I’m a huge believer in this self-therapy because, with only a few inexpensive tools, you can treat your fascia dysfunctions and truly build a better body.
Stay tuned next week where I’ll talk about how you can take advantage of myofascial release and soft tissue work to restore your body to its healthy roots.