What is Myofascial Release?

As many Homestead Massage clients have discovered, Myofascial Release (MFR) is a uniquely profound approach to restoring balance, pain relief and ease of motion to the body.  To understand Myofascial Release, you first have to know about the fascia that needs releasing!  In short, fascia is the liquid crystal ground substance of your body that permeates everything.  Literally, everything in your body.  It surrounds your nerve cells, muscle fibers, sheathes your bones, organs and even your spinal cord.

In its healthy state fascia is fluid, but can become restricted for various reasons including traumas (physical and/or emotional), inflammatory responses, and/or surgeries.  Here’s the thing… restrictions in your fascial web can place around 2,000 pounds of tensile pressure per square inch on pain sensitive structures. No wonder our bodies can hurt so much!  But how does Myofascial Release (MFR) work to relieve those restrictions? 

Myofascial Release (MFR) is the application of gently sustained pressure into fascial restrictions.  This is usually done with therapist’s hands, although other tools such as balls, wedges and foam rollers can also be used.  The body moves at it’s own slow pace, and MFR matches that speed. Just like you, or me, or your average 2-year-old kid, the body doesn’t like to be forced into doing things.  It likes to get there of it’s own accord, and MFR facilitates this process. Gentle and steady pressure applied in and around the restricted area for a minimum of 3-5 minutes allows the fascia to change back to it’s fluid state and relieve the pressure causing pain. But how does MFR affect this transformation?

First, we need to talk about piezoelectricity, or ‘pressure electricity.’ Each of our cells is crystalline in nature, and when you place pressure onto a crystal it actually creates an electrical flow.  Whoa!  Ok, stay with me here. That same mechanical pressure being applied is also responsible for a phenomenon called mechanotransduction, where the sustained therapeutic pressure creates biochemical changes within the body.  Incidentally, one of these changes is the creation of Interleukin 8, our body’s natural anti-inflammatory agent. Phase transition, the same phenomenon as when ice melts and transforms into water, occurs when both of these processes are in action. The solidified and restricted ground substance (fascia) once again becomes fluid, allowing tissues to rehydrate, restoring glide and functionality as well as taking pressure off of pain sensitive structures. 

The gentle and long holds of this technique are key in its effectiveness.  Also, many people are surprised at the lack of massage lotion or oil used.  But the lack of such a lubricant allows for a much better grip and communication between the hand of the therapist and the fascial restrictions of the client.  How does this MFR therapy feel?  Like exactly what you didn’t know you needed.  The body is usually very happy to have someone finally listening and communicating at its speed.  MFR is the most profound and effective therapy I have yet encountered, and pairs very well with many other techniques to restore balance and ease to your mind-body.