What is Myofascial Release?
Fascia is a gelatinous, 3-dimensional, web-like matrix that extends throughout the entire body. Think of this matrix like a layers of gauze, stacked upon each other in the shape of the body. Then, immerse your organs, bones, blood, nerve, and lymph vessels, and skin WITH-IN this gauze. Instead of visualizing these structures as individual parts of the body, they may begin to resemble fascial sacks or units that are interconnected and communicate using the fascial matrix.
In fascia's natural and functional state, it should be a more of a liquid-like gelatin, that glides, slides, and supports all of the connected structures in the body. When there's disfunction or disease, the fascia will begin to harden and act like glue. This restriction will begin to pull on surrounding structures, much like dragging your finger through a spider-web and it globs together, or a snag in a sweater. The snag in the sweater actually effects the integrity of the whole sweater with an immense force (2,000 lbs/square inch of restriction!). This can help explain why someone may have symptoms of pain in one location (the winkles of a sweater), but the origin (or snag in the sweater) is in a completely different location.
What does a typical session look like?
What is Fascia?
Myofascial Release is a gentle, slow and sustained pressure on the fascial restrictions (areas that feel hard, hot, or tender). Since these places have hardened down and become glue-like, under the sustained pressure of 3-5 minutes or more, the fascia undergoes a phase change, much like squeezing an ice cube and it reverts back to a liquid. What happens under the sustained pressure is that the fascial tissue is rehydrated. With the rehydration, consciousness or awareness can then come back into these sensitive areas we may have learned to ignore, because it was just to painful to continue to give it our daily attention.
Myofascial Release addresses the whole body, with the understanding that everything is connected through this fascial web. Two symptoms seemingly may not be related to each other, but once a therapist's hands are on your body, you may develop awarenesses that your leg is in fact connected to your neck -- and just maybe the discomfort in your neck, could be coming from a previous injury you had to your ankle. A skilled therapist will tap-into this continuous web and feel where one restriction extends. Using verbal and non-verbal cues, the therapist will continue to feel into a patient and use the paths of restriction and tension like a road map to release those areas and create space in the client's body.
What's different about John Barnes Myofascial Release is the time component. Gently holding a release for 3-5 minutes or more has been shown to release anti-inflammatory factors that produces a more permanent or longer-lasting release. A muscle can be fully lengthened using Myofascial Release, which reduces the symptom of knots in tissue. Once lengthened, the muscle can then operate at it's full strength, or be properly strengthened, rather than trying to strengthen a muscle that is stuck-short.
After Myofascial Release, people report feeling lighter, stronger, more at ease, and more aware. They have greater range of motion, or more function than they had before.
What can Myofascial Release help with?
Myofascial Release (MFR) can be performed on and help anyone - from neo-nates and pediatrics, the geriatric, the healthy adult, or extreme athletes looking to get an edge or resolve a on-going or reoccurring injury.
Conditions MFR often helps are:
Myofascial Release sessions differ from most other massage techniques because it's performed directly on the skin without lotion. Client's are asked to wear shorts and a sports top or 2-piece bathing suit. This allows for the therapist to access as much of the body as possible while providing comfort for the client to have freedom to move during the session.
Sessions often begin discussing a client's symptoms or challenges. The therapist will observe and evaluate a client's body and the session begins often in the area of the largest restriction (or where there's the least amount of movement). During a session, communication is important. If something feels as though it's too much, a client can stop the session completely, ease up, or move onto a different area at any time. Equally, it's good feedback to the therapist when a client communicates and has awareness' of other areas that may start to sing or make themselves known.