Fascia, Not Muscles
Instead of targeting the muscle tissue, myofascial release works on the sheath of tissue around the muscles. This tissue, called fascia, wraps around the muscles. It has nerves and vessels in it and can even tighten up or relax, albeit very slowly, in response to sustained or repetitive pressure. Scientists have just begun to study the intricacies of fascia and how it works in the body. Although we do not know exactly how it works, myofascial techniques lead to positive results on the massage table.
Since fascial tissue responds slowly to stimuli, myofascial release is typically performed very slowly. The massage therapist feels for tautness, stickiness, or immobility between the tissues. She or he then uses a sustained, usually gentle, pressure until the tissue releases. The therapist may use a combination of slow gliding, traction, unwinding, and stretching to coax the fascia to relax. Typically the therapist moves the tissue until it sticks, then holds it until it moves again, sometimes for minutes at a time in one place. Essentially, the therapist simply follows the movement in the body- not forcing it, but allowing it to release.
Whom Does Myofascial Release Benefit?
People who have fibromyalgia often respond well to myofascial release. Many also find it helpful in softening scar tissue or correcting postural holding patterns. Athletic individuals often benefit from this style of work. This technique may help anyone in general who has an area that feels very taut.
At Nimbus Massage, the therapists typically blend myofascial release with other techniques during a Massage for Chronic Pain , a Massage for Pain Relief, or a Massage for General Wellness. Some issues that respond well to this type of work include fibromyalgia, plantar fasciitis, IT band problems, postural holding, scar tissue, sinus pressure, carpal tunnel, low back pain, and some cases of arthritis.