How Myofascial Release Works
Does myofascial release work?
“ Fascia ” refers to the connective tissue that surrounds muscle layers, bones, ligaments and organs. Your fascia forms the connective web-like network that supports and holds in place the internal structures of your body.
What Is Myofascial Release Therapy?
Your physiotherapist may use their hands, elbows or a myofascial release tool to do this. Each of your muscle knots will be worked on as it takes time to release. Your physiotherapist will explain the process and inform you of what to expect during your sessions and afterwards
What Are The Benefits Of Myofascial Release Therapy?
There are many myofascial release benefits. These can include:
- Better endurance
- Decrease tightness and sensitivity
- Greater range of motion
- Improve posture
- Increase circulation
- Muscle relaxation
- Reduce pain
- Achilles tendonitis
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Frozen shoulder
- Hip flexor tightness
- Neck and lower back pain
- Pelvic floor dysfunction
- Piriformis pain syndrome
- Tennis elbow
Myofascial Pain Syndrome
Symptoms of myofascial pain can include local pain, tightness in your muscle, decreased flexibility and a reduced ability to do your usual activities. The affected muscle is often painful with light to moderate pressure and there is usually more than one area of the muscle involved. For instance, this is commonly found in our trapezius muscles, the muscles covering the top of your shoulders and extending down to your upper back.
When you have myofascial pain affecting your trapezius muscles, some of the symptoms you may notice include:
- Forward head posture from tight muscles, pulling the back of your head down and lifting your shoulders
- Neck pain
- Pain on the top of your shoulders
- Reduce range of motion in your neck and shoulders
- Shoulder pain
- Tight, painful muscle knots on the top of your shoulders or between your shoulder blades
Is Myofascial Release Therapy Painful?
Myofascial release involves local treatment of your involved tissues that are already painful and sensitive to touch. Because of this, you may feel some slight pain during your session. This may be local pain or referred pain that follows the length of your muscles.
If there is tightness around the nerve supplying the muscle, you may also feel some tingling and numbness. However, this is usually temporary and typically eases as you get better.
It is important that you let your physiotherapist know what and how you feel. There is often another treatment option if the intensity is too much. This is not a sign of weakness but rather being in tune with what your body needs at any given moment. Your therapeutic session may not always follow textbook protocol but will rather be adapted to your individual need.
The Risks And Side Effects Of Myofacial Release Therapy
- Currently taking blood thinner medication
- Deep vein thrombosis
- Fracture or weak bones
- Previous burn wound or radiation therapy – avoid myofascial release on the involved area
- Severe osteoporosis
Trying Myofascial Release At Home
For a self myofascial release example, consider myofascial pain involving the trapezius muscle. Many approaches can be done with simple items found around your home without having to buy any special myofascial release tools. Here are steps on how to do myofascial release at home:
- Put a myofascial release ball or a tennis ball in a sock
- Stand with your back leaning on a wall
- Hold the top of the sock and put the ball behind your back, near the top of your shoulder
- Gently lean onto the ball
- Move the ball up or down along your muscles until you find a tender spot near the top of your shoulder or further down your back
- Once you have found a spot, gently press into the knot by leaning on it for 30 – 60 seconds
- Avoid putting the ball on a boney spot or leaning too heavily on the ball
- Release the pressure and move the ball to the next spot and repeat
Other self myofascial release techniques you can try include stretching and self massage.
If the symptoms in your neck and shoulders feel better after finishing the above steps, then you can repeat daily. However, if your symptoms have not improved or are worse you should visit your physiotherapist.
Sometimes the area needs some more direct hands on therapy before a home treatment program is effective. Or perhaps you thought it was myofascial pain but instead it was caused by something else and so myofascial release therapy was not the ideal treatment.
Your physiotherapist will be able to provide you with the right information to help get you on track