Myofascial Release Explained
What is Myofascial Release
Myofascial release is a hands-on approach to managing pain and discomfort stemming from soft tissues like muscles, and tendons. During the treatment, a physical therapist, chiropractor or manual therapist may use a mixture of massage, kneading, scrapping (IASTM), stretching, and movements to target specific muscles. This technique also applies pressure to tight or sore areas to encourage them to relax. The pressure is often applied with the therapist’s hands, or a device like a soft tissue tool, foam roller or a tennis/lacrosse ball.
Benefits of Myofascial Release
For myofascial release to be effective, it usually takes consistency and repetition. A therapist will usually teach you how to perform some additional techniques at home so you can continue them daily between visits. After several visits you will likely see improvements in range of motion, decreased tension and pain. Conditions like tension headaches, neck/shoulder pain, low back pain, and hip pain can respond very well to myofascial release.
When Should You Consider Myofascial Release
Myofascial release is a great addition to any recovery or treatment plan. However, it should not be the sole focus of the treatment. Myofascial release is used to decrease and modulate pain in order to make corrective exercises or daily workouts less uncomfortable. Studies show that the effects of myofascial release are short term. Therefore, we want to use the duration of those short term improvements to focus on something that will provide long term benefits like exercise. If you have nagging pain that keeps you from exercising or a chronic condition that has you hesitant to start moving more, myofascial release may be a great option for you.
How To Get Started
Before getting started it is important to note some underlying health conditions or pathologies that may be worsened by certain myofascial techniques. If you have persistent pain that has not been diagnosed, I recommend seeing a health care professional before starting. If you have been cleared, you can start at home with a tennis ball or foam roller. These are good options to start exploring different areas and tissues and finding some of your sore and tender spots. Oftentimes, muscles in the surrounding area of pain or complaint are contributing factors. It may be beneficial to seek out a manual therapist, chiropractor, or physical therapist to get an assessment and make sure you are targeting all the areas needed.