10 fascinating facts about myofascial release (MFR)
One of my goals at North Shore Myofascial Release is to invite other healers and practitioners to share their information, advice and experiences on myofascial release and related healing tools. This month, I’d like to introduce you to Amanda Oswald, owner of Pain Care Clinic in the UK and author of book Living Pain Free: Healing Chronic Pain with Myofascial Release. She has created an easy to read facts list on Myofascial Release.
1. Myo + Fascial + Release, or MFR
Myo, meaning muscle, and fascia, the main connective tissue, account for almost all the soft tissue in the body. That soft tissue can become damaged, creating snags and restrictions that limit movement and create pain. “Release” refers to the gentle way in which myofascial release works with the natural qualities of fascia to release those snags and restrictions, restoring balance, movement, and health.
2. Fascia is everywhere
Fascia is the main connective tissue in the body, connecting everything to everything else. Fascia forms a three-dimensional web running through and around all other body structures including muscles, nerves, blood vessels, bones and organs.
3. Fascia is stronger than it looks
Fascia is naturally very fluid and moves freely as we move. Seen under a microscope fascia looks very fragile, but it has a tensile strength of 2,000lb per square inch. That’s roughly the equivalent of a panda sitting on you.
Fascia creates a structure within the body that is perfectly balanced and flexible. Without fascia the living skeleton would be no more than a pile of bones on the floor.
4. Damage to fascia causes chronic pain
Any damage to the fascial web causes it to snag and tear, pulling the web out of shape, similar to a snag in a jumper or a pair of tights. This causes fascial restrictions which lead to limited movement, increased pressure, and chronic pain. These snags can refer pain and other sensations along lines of tension in the body. Hence a fascial restriction in your hip can lead to pain in your shoulder.
Damage to fascia can be caused by: accidents & injuries; surgery & scar tissue; the repetitive nature of work or leisure activities (say, computers or gardening); posture; stress.
5. Chronic pain affects over 30% of people
Chronic pain is defined as pain that lasts for more than three months and it affects 100 million people in the USA. It includes many common conditions such as back pain, headaches & migraines, jaw (TMJ) pain, repetitive strain injury (RSI) and fibromyalgia. These conditions are difficult to treat medically because they do not respond to standard approaches such as medication and surgery, and many people are told they just have to learn to live with their pain.
Many chronic pain conditions are caused by fascial restrictions.
6. MFR is the key to restoring fascial health and normal pain-free function
Myofascial release is a gentle hands-on complementary therapy working to release the fascial restrictions that cause chronic pain. It works by applying gentle and sustained pressure to allow fascia to release and return to its normal fluid state.
7. Myofascial release has been called the medicine of the 21st century
MFR has been described as the missing link in healthcare, and as the medicine of the 21st century, explaining and relieving chronic pain and other conditions through its mind-body engagement.
8. Introducing the “slow fix”
MFR is also an effective self-help technique which works on the principle of the “slow fix”. The cells in your body are built to replace and renew themselves. This takes about six months on average. Just as your body has gradually become stuck, so it can gradually become unstuck. You can work with your body to help release your fascia through regular fascial stretching and myofascial ball work. This is the principle of the myofascial slow fix.
9. Fascial stretching is a whole new way of stretching
Fascial stretching is gentler on your body and more deeply effective than other types of stretching. Fascia takes 90-120 seconds to start to release, and holding one single stretch for 2-5 minutes will allow additional fascial releases to occur throughout your body, transmitted through the fascial web.
10. Myofascial balls are designed for self-help myofascial release
Myofascial balls replicate the gentle pressure of an MFR treatment, unlike foam rollers (which are too hard), and can help you access hard-to-reach places. They are specifically designed for the purpose, as they are large enough to cover a good area yet still small enough to focus on irritable spots. They are inflatable, so are softer and therefore more giving than other balls, and can be inflated or deflated to the right pressure for the sensitivity of your body.
For best results, we recommend our myofascial release kit.
If you have enjoyed the post, please leave me a comment.
Author Bio: Amanda is a leading myofascial release therapist in the UK and author of Living Pain Free: Healing Chronic Pain with Myofascial Release. A keen amateur sportswoman, Amanda played rugby for several years and then took up marathon running. It was her experience of recovery from a prolapsed disc and RSI that inspired Amanda to leave her stressful office job and retrain as a massage therapist. Amanda has a BTEC Professional Diploma in Advanced Clinical & Sports Massage and has completed extensive further advanced training in fascial techniques in the USA, UK and Europe, including: Myofascial Release (John Barnes), Craniosacral Therapy (Upledger Institute), Visceral Manipulation (Jean Pierre Barral), Fascial Techniques for the Pelvis and Pelvic Floor (Nancy Stewart), Manual Therapy (The Centre for Professional Development in Osteopathy).
P.S. I’ll be back next month with Part 3 of the 3-part series, Why you should never give up on healing. – Jessica