Self Myofascial Release… What is that?
The Fascia is probably the most fascianating (ha!) and also the most overlooked part of the body in health science. The fascia is the connective tissue of the body, and it forms a webbing that stretches from the skin (superficial fascia), around and through the muscles (myofascia), most of the organs (subserous fascia) and down to the bones. It provides structure for the muscles, provides nutrients and takes away waste for healthy functioning of tissue. Further, the fascia forms functional organization in the body (See Anatomy Trains) that are essential for movement, forming pathways for tension and forces to span in layers in the body. Healthy and functional fascia can instantaneously be as hard as bone while being malleable like water allowing nutrients to flow through the body.
So what is Myofascial Release? Myofascial means “fascia related to the muscles” and thus refers specifically to the fascia connected with the muscle, and not the superficial or subserous fascia. Self Myofascial Release is basically self-massage. Performed similar to trigger point therapy or deep tissue massage in that it deals with the gentle application of consistent and focused pressure to targeted areas of the body in order to reduce pain, inflammation, tension and improve blood flow. However it can be performed by yourself, with or without the aid of self-massage tools such as massage rollers and massage balls. This aims at restoring movement and functionality to the soft tissue and joints, while reducing pain, fatigue and inflammation.
Self Myofascial Release operates on the principle that the human body holds stress and tension from trauma. This includes acute traumatic events (physical injuries and highly emotional events) as well as chronic trauma (habitual tension from physical activities as well as emotional stressors). This holding manifests, among other places, in the muscle and fascial tissue, producing painful spasms and knots in some areas, and numbness and lack of feeling in other areas. This discomfort and pain is natural process of the body indicating that you need to release and otherwise this may get worse over time. This effect is only exacerbated by poor diets or overuse of pharmaceuticals. Myofascial Release aims to access these areas of blockage and tension to release and dissolve, over time day by day. Thereby, not only freeing up the muscle and allowing it to move more easily and effectively, but freeing up the organism to move freely and with increased awareness.
Benefits of Self Myofascial Release
A huge benefit of Self Myofascial Release is that you can do it yourself. There is however a fundamental difference of a self applied remedy is that you will feel empowered and connected with yourself on a deeper level afterwards. Medical doctors, chiropractors, physical therapists, massage therapists, personal trainers, yoga instructors and so on are wonderful resources and we definitely encourage you to get expert help and advice as often as you like. However, relying on experts to fix you and your conditions is a mindset that ultimately gives your power away to heal yourself. Remember that this is your body and your body is the most precious miracle giving you the gift of life with every breathe.
Additionally, experts find that Self Myofascial Release aids people who suffer from conditions such as chronic fatigue, pediatrics, sports injuries, geriatrics, headaches, dysfunction, pelvic pain, menstrual pain, scoliosis, congenital vertebral abnormalities, birth and head injury, neurological dysfunction, muscle spasms, restrictive movement, and general body pain, among others. Yes, that is pretty much everyone. Let us repeat, Self Myofascial Release is for everyone.
If you’re still wondering if that includes you, studies show that it helps the following additional conditions –
- Sports injuries such as repetitive strain injuries often present in long-distance runners. It also aids the symptoms of muscular imbalances that lead to overusing the faulty movement patterns of a person or the overused joints. It also treats pelvic misalignment that affects the competitive performance of athletes.
- It aids in the recovery of muscles for athletes after performing their exercises. This aids them in preventing injury.
- It is more effective in comparison to ultrasound therapy that treats plantar heel pain.
- When this massage is combined with paradoxical relaxation training and a foam roller it aids in treating pelvic pain in men. In comparison to the traditional therapy options, this massage gives a better pain relief alternative.
- When a foam roller is applied, this massage boosts the flow of blood in the body and the overall quality of life of the person. This means that it also boosts hormones that reduce stress. This is good for women who are experiencing postmenopausal symptoms. It can also be used with kinesiotherapy to alleviate pain and improve blood flow in the veins.
- Pain caused by fibromyalgia also falls in this category. This rheumatoid condition is characterized by the following symptoms: depression, anxiety, craniomandibular dysfunction, spastic colon, headache, sleep alterations, immense fatigue, the rigidity of the joint, and general body pain. This massage comes in to aid in alleviating the pain and improving the quality of life of the individual.
- Low back pain that is chronic and is caused by lumbar dysfunction also falls into this category. Most of the time this dysfunction leads to a disability. There is a study that focused on lumbar dysfunction and the effect that myofascial release had on it. This study found that the massage was highly effective in terms of pain alleviation and regaining functionality. This means that it reduced the chances of a person becoming disabled after being diagnosed with this disease.
- Chronic low back pain due to lumbar dysfunction is a common cause of disability. One study found that myofascial release was effective in reducing pain and functional disability in people with chronic low back pain.