What does the word myofascial mean?
Myo refers to muscle; fascia refers to the connective tissue that is one continuous, strong but flexible, web of tissue that runs though the body from head to toe, and which surrounds and interpenetrates every cell, muscle, bone, nerve, and organ.
Myofascial release is a very effective manual therapy technique that uses the gentle sustained pressure of the trained therapist’s hands to engage the restricted fascia and facilitate its release. This technique can improve bodily functions, relieve pain, and increase freedom of movement.
A basic understanding of the fascial system is important to grasp the implications of the profound effect that this technique can have on the functioning of the body, particularly in relieving pain and restricted motion.
- Fascia looks like the thin clear or white membrane you find covering the flesh of an uncooked chicken part when you’re prepping it to cook. It is thin, moist, stretchy, and strong. It is also what comprises the tendons and ligaments that connect muscles and bones.
- It is very strong. It has the tensile strength of 2000 pounds per square inch.
- It is continuous , without interruption, from head to toe, surrounding and interpenetrating each cell, group of cells, muscle, bone, nerve, organ in the body. Because it is continuous, a restriction in one area can cause symptoms in an area of the body far removed from the restriction. (Imagine the hem of a sweater being caught on a nail as the person wearing it is moving away. An observer could see the lines of pull going from the site of the snag all the way up to the shoulder of the sweater, ) The body’s fascial web is like that sweater.
- Fascia is composed of collagen (for strength) and elastin (for flexibility)in a gel-like matrix. (for shock absorption of compressive forces during movement or trauma). It separates and supports body parts and allows them to glide easily over each other.
- Restricted fascia changes from fluid-like to something like hardened
glue. The tissue binds to itself and shortens, thereby losing some of its ability to glide and elongate. Nerves and blood vessels are compressed within the restricted fascia, causing pain and impaired circulation.
- Diagnostic Tests such as MRI, x-ray, CT scans, EMG, etc. do not show fascial restrictions. It is not uncommon for people who are suffering from pain and restricted motion to have their condition undiagnosed.
- Recent research studies on fascia resulted in the ability to observe (under magnification) fascia/fascial restrictions in vivo (in a living person).