Over time, we grow accustomed to the dull, aching pain in various muscles and joints, chalking it up to sleeping wrong or getting older. But in some instances, this radiating discomfort may actually stem from trigger points or “muscle knots” in the myofascial tissue. Learning the common causes of myofascial pain as well as your non-invasive treatment options can help you find effective relief.
Understanding the Myofascial Tissue
To understand myofascial release therapy, you must first become familiar with the fascia, or myofascial tissue. Fascia is the web-like connective membrane that supports and surrounds muscles, bones and other soft tissue structures throughout the body.
Ideally, the fascia should remain flexible and elastic to allow joints and muscles to move freely. However, certain areas can become stiff and fixed, forming trigger points that put stress on the underlying muscles and joints.
Imagine the fascia as shoelaces – tied too tightly, they restrict the foot, potentially causing pain and numbness.
What is Myofascial Release Therapy?
Myofascial release therapy focuses on loosening tension and tightness in trigger points, which is why it is sometimes referred to as myofascial trigger point release therapy. While myofascial therapy style varies from provider to provider, two universal methods deliver the associated benefits: soft tissue manipulation and stretching.
Your therapist begins by massaging your body to feel for tight knots and manually works out kinks. Soft tissue manipulation involves applying sustained, gentle pressure to trigger points until the area relaxes. Stretching the muscles also helps to release restrictions within the fascia and restore mobility.
Uses for Myofascial Release Therapy
Trigger points can develop due to different injuries like car accidents and falls. But more commonly, these knots form gradually as a result of posture misalignments, inflammation, and nerve compression.
Oftentimes, myofascial release is used as a treatment option for conditions such as chronic headaches, temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) and carpal tunnel syndrome. In the case of migraine, the massage therapist manipulates muscles in the neck and head to alleviate pain. Likewise, this form of therapy may also ease symptoms of back, neck, shoulder and other chronic pain by relieving pinched nerves, easing inflammation and maneuvering herniated discs.
Benefits of Myofascial Release
The process of relaxing contracted muscles provides almost immediate relief to some areas of discomfort. Because trigger points can cause radiating pain, myofascial release works to address larger muscle groups as compared to more targeted treatment options.
Through combined manipulation and stretching techniques, you may experience several benefits:
- Improved blood and lymph circulation
- Increased flexibility
- Better range of motion in the joints
- Muscle relaxation
- Decreased pain
- Less inflammation
Implementing a regular massage routine can help maintain the results of your myofascial release session and improve your health over time.
If you feel ongoing pain in large muscle groups, you should talk with a massage therapist about myofascial release therapy as a remedy. While you may not be able to pinpoint the cause of your pain, the trained professionals at Total Body Chiropractic and Massage will assess your body and find the necessary trigger points to bring you comfort and relaxation. In addition to myofascial release massage, Total Body chiropractors Bari Liebowitz and Dan Rhodes can also perform myofascial release using the Graston tools.