What is Myofascial Release?

Myofascial release involves a gentle form of stretching and compression. The therapy, also known as soft tissue mobilization or MFR, releases the uneven tightness in injured fascia.

Fascia (also called “connective tissue”) is the dense, tough tissue that surrounds and covers the body’s organs, muscles and bones. It is the tough, white membrane which we sometimes remove from meat before cooking, for example, the white, film-like layer on the outside of a chicken breast. It is very strong, being able to withstand and exert a force of 2000 pounds per square inch. The fascial system extends from the toes to the top of the head, throughout the body, in a continuous spider web-like fashion. It surrounds all the tissues and organs of the body right down to a cellular level.

In the normal healthy state the fascia is relaxed and soft, and it can stretch without restriction. However, following physical trauma or inflammation, fascia loses its pliability, and it becomes a sense of tension throughout the body.

Myofascial release is different from massage, which focuses only on muscles.

How Does the Technique Work?

The physical therapist finds the area of tightness and then a light stretch is applied to the tight area. The physical therapist waits for the tissue to relax and then increases the stretch. The process is repeated until the area is fully relaxed. Then, the next area is stretched.

The therapist is guided by feedback he feels from the patient’s body. This feedback tells the therapist how much force to use, the direction of the stretch and how long to stretch. Small areas of muscle are stretched at a time.

The therapist will be able to find sore regions just by feel. Often, patients are unable to pinpoint some sore regions or have grown used to them until the physical therapist finds them. The size and sensitivity of these sore regions, called myofascial trigger points, will decrease with treatment.

Progress is measured by a decrease in the patient’s pain and by an improvement in overall posture.

What Conditions Can Treated with Myofascial Release?

Myofascial Release Therapy can be used to treat the following conditions:

  • Back strain and general chronic or acute back pain
  • Carpel tunnel syndrome
  • Chronic cervical pain
  • Chronic pain syndromes
  • Dizziness, vertigo
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Fibrositis
  • Headaches
  • Lumbar and thoracic pain
  • Myofascial pain dysfunction
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Post-polio symptoms
  • Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) dysfunction
  • Whiplash