Myofascial Release has gained enormous popularity among osteopathic and manual therapy practitioners in recent years. There has been an enormous amount of research and information of the effectiveness of these techniques, and they all point to breakthroughs in therapy for patients. Let’s break down what Myofascial release is and explore why it is so effective.
Myofascial release can be broken down into two words. “Myo” meaning muscle, and “fascial” which is relating to the fascia. Since most of you know what muscle is, I will spend the next few minutes discussing what fascia is and its importance in the body.
So, basically, every little piece of connective tissue in the body is called fascia. All of the extra “stuff” between the muscles and between the organs is of incredible importance to the body. There is so much fascia in the body that if you were to take strip everything else away, you would still see a perfect silhouette of the human body. Muscles glide along fascia, fascia holds organs together, and connect them to the body wall, fascia separates the sections of the brain and covers the spinal cord literally from head to tailbone.
What therapists have discovered is that a restriction in the movement of the fascia significantly reduces the efficiency of anything that is attached to it…which is everything! For example, if the fascia between the stomach and the liver (called the lesser omentum) is extremely tight, the functions of the liver and the stomach are both directly affected. If the fascia between the bones of the leg, the tibia and fibula, is extremely tight, then the knee, hip, ankle, and foot are all directly affected. And, since there are arteries and veins that pierce this fascia, even the blood supply and nervous flow are compromised.
And that’s not all…years of research on fascia have confirmed that there are what are commonly called “Myofascial Chains”. There are direct lines of fascia, single long pieces of connective tissue that literally run from head to toe. This means that tension of the fascia in one area of the body can cause debilitating dysfunction in other areas of the body.
As a therapist who knows and understands these Myofascial chains assesses the body in a global manner, meaning they do not just look at the area that is sore or injured, I quickly see strain patterns that are causing misalignments and postural problems. A prime example of this is commonly known as “forward head posture”. The patients chin is more forward than it should be, they are rounded in the upper back and shoulders, and have a lot of neck pain and stiffness. They commonly feel they need to “stretch it out” but never can. The reason they feel this way is because they are stretching the symptom area, not the problem area. It is very common to find low back, stomach, and intestinal/digestive problems with these same patients. The fascia around organs in the mid or low back are causing the entire head to be pulled forward out of alignment. Place your hand just under your ribs on your stomach, and press in and down…do you feel what happens to your head and neck. The chin instantly moves forward out of alignment…you can just picture the rest…tension in the back of the neck and shoulders, knots in the upper back between the shoulder blades that are trying to compensate, and on , and on. All this from a Myofascial pull from lower in the abdomen. I literally see this every day. Every day.
Now you can begin to see why utilizing Myofascial techniques is so incredibly powerful. More often than not, it is the most effective tools to effectively treat our patients. Used in conjunction with all of the other Osteopathic assessment and treatment tools, you can begin to see why Osteopathy is the fastest growing manual therapy in Canada.
Jason Brandow, BSc TR, CST
Osteopathy Current Study & Thesis Writer
For more information contact Ultimate Sports Therapy at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit us at http://www.ultimatesportstherapy.com/osteopathy.html