Myofascial Release is a popular alternative medicine treatment claimed to be very effective for the treatment of pain and chronic skeletal immobility caused by acute injuries or by chronic overuse. It is often recommended as an “alternative” treatment because it doesn’t involve the use of drugs or surgery, has no side effects, and is reasonably safe. So what’s it all about? How do you use it, and is it really effective? Let’s take a look at some of the basics.
One way that myofascial release can be used to relieve pain is through a hands-on technique called Trigger Pointing. Trigger Pointing involves gently applying pressure to specific acupoints located in the hands or arms to elicit a response from the body that releases muscular tension. Many people have used this technique with great success to reduce pain and improve range-of-motion in their muscles. Trigger Pointing is also sometimes used on patients with injured tendons and ligaments. Trigger Pointing has been shown to have a limited effect on spasticity and tendinitis, although it does not work on bursitis, which is a combination of muscle and tissue inflammation.
Another way that myofascial release can be used to alleviate pain is through a technique called Active Release. Inactive stretches and contractions of the hip flexors, however, will actually exacerbate symptoms, so it’s best for people experiencing hip pain to seek the advice of their doctor before trying any self-treatment methods. Active Release is a thirty-minute, non-medical massage designed to relieve tightness in the muscles of the buttocks, legs, back, hips, abdomen, or shoulders. The technique is gentle enough to be done by oneself, but effective enough to get results (especially with hip pain). A quality therapist should be able to perform this treatment with excellent skill and effectiveness, especially after doing Myofascial Release for at least five minutes three times per week for at least three months.
Finally, there are some conditions in which myofascial release can be extremely helpful, as well as painful. For example, some forms of RSI can be caused by compression of the internal organs. If you’re dealing with open wounds in your lower back or pelvis, or if you’re suffering from painful cramps, leg cramps, or numbness in the hands and feet, then myofascial release may be the key to your recovery. Open wounds can be caused by traumatic events such as falls, car accidents, or sports injuries, as well as from chronic conditions such as diabetes or cancer. In these cases, if the myofascial structures are compromised, it may be necessary to release the tissue to relieve the pressure and prevent further injury.
When myofascial release techniques are used in conjunction with physical therapy often used to treat myofascial pain syndrome, patients often notice a significant improvement in their symptoms almost immediately. Unfortunately, in order to find a practitioner who is skilled in this method, it can take quite a bit of work to locate one. Fortunately, there are websites and resources available to help you locate a competent physical therapist who is skilled in myofascial release. With the right person to work with you, the myofascial release methods will work to alleviate your chronic pain disorder caused by a variety of conditions.
The techniques myofascial release employs mirror the principles of Swedish massage, the most commonly used type of Swedish massage therapy. It’s safe to say that the two have many similarities, but they also have differences. Swedish massage is often used to release chronic inflammatory conditions such as myofascial pain syndrome and chronic shoulder tension. During the therapy, the massage therapist moves his hands along the length of the muscles of the body one at a time, releasing tight and fatigued connective tissue. Myofascial Release on the other hand uses the same technique but involves applying more direct pressure to the affected muscle groups.