What is Myofascial Release Therapy and What Can It Treat?
Suffering from relentless, non-specific pain takes a toll on an individual's daily routine and emotional well-being. When the pain does not seem to come from a specific injury or illness, or when more than one area of the body is affected, the effects can be lifelong and traumatic. However, for people who suffer from this type of pain, as well as many other conditions, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. This light comes in the form of myofascial release therapy.
What is Myofascial Release Therapy?
In short, it is a highly specialized physical and manual therapy that has been shown to treat and successfully rehabilitate soft tissue and fascial restrictions and tensions. While much is known about looking after and rehabilitating muscles, relatively little is known about the connective tissue or fascia outside of the medical profession. However, the fascia plays an important role in protecting other tissues, tendons, organs, ligaments and muscles throughout the body. When it doesn't work properly, the elements it protects are at risk of damage.
How Does Myofascial Release Therapy Work?
The fascia is connective tissue made from elastin and collagen fibres, surrounded by a viscous fluid. The main functions of this strong and flexible tissue are to act as a cushion, provide support and allow movement taking place without restriction or pain.
The fascia also responds to internal and external forces, which means that it responds well to external physical pressure, such as that used during myofascial release therapy. The therapy works by slowly stretching the fascia. The therapist feels for thickness or hardness in the collagen that signifies areas of fascial restriction. It is a time-heavy form of therapy; for the fascia to return to its normal resting length and provide measurable benefits to the patient, each area must be worked through and pressure applied for between five to eight minutes on each restriction.
What Causes Fascia Restrictions?
In addition to something as simple a poor posture, any trauma, either physical or emotional can cause fascia scars and hardening. Once one area of the fascia has been affected, the body compensates, putting more pressure on other areas and spreading the problem in the fascia network.
Individuals who work in specific industries or undertake certain pastimes can be more at risk of restrictions than normal. People who participate in sports, either professional or amateur, are more likely to suffer from injuries to muscles and ligaments than non-athletes. At the point the injury takes place, a restriction in the fascia can occur. Performers, particularly dancers and acrobats tend to suffer from a larger number of restrictions in the fascia than the general public. However, in addition to these potential causes, chronic myofascial pain syndrome is a specific condition that is best treated with myofascial release therapy.
What is Chronic Myofascial Pain Syndrome?
Myofascial pain syndrome is often diagnosed when the patient experiences unresolved pain and discomfort with no obvious direct cause. The pain and discomfort cause trigger points, areas that are hyperirritable and subject to severe tightness or restriction in the fascia. The condition can also affect movement in the limbs or areas of the body that are affected. Myofascial release therapy works well for this condition because it considers the body holistically and treats the underlying problem rather than simply trying to control individual symptoms.
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